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Biological Hazard – Cervid Die-off | Epizootic hemorrhagic disease: Kentucky, Pennsylvania


Published Date: 2017-08-13 13:11:56
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Epizootic hemorrhagic disease – USA (05): (KY) cervid
Archive Number: 20170813.5246607

Date: Thu 10 Aug 2017 9:48 AM EDT
Source: Lex18 [edited]

A deadly disease is hitting the population of wildlife in Kentucky and Fish and Wildlife Officials are reportedly overwhelmed by the amount of deceased wildlife.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease or “EHD” is spreading in multiple counties. Reports of dead deer are being called in to fish and wildlife officials across the state.

The virus is insect borne and can fatally affect red deer and sheep. The disease is not contagious but can become widespread due to insect activity, specifically the midge fly.

Dry hot weather is usually blamed for EHD as deer are forced to move to bodies of water where carriers of the disease reside.

“Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is not transmittable to people or pets,” Dr Iga Stasiak, state wildlife veterinarian for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “However, we always recommend that hunters avoid eating venison from deer that were obviously sick.”

The counties hardest hit have been Magoffin, Floyd and Knott counties.

Deer can exhibit signs of illness within 24 to 72 hours after receiving a bite from an infected midge. Infected deer may appear sluggish and unresponsive to humans. EHD causes dehydration and fever in deer, which causes the animals to seek water. Infected deer are often found dead near bodies of water. Kentucky last had significant outbreaks of EHD in 2007 and 2012.

Contact Fish and Wildlife if you find a deceased deer at 1-800-858-1549.

Communicated by:


Published Date: 2017-08-05 13:46:14
Subject: PRO/AH> Epizootic hemorrhagic disease – USA (04) (KY,PA): cervid
Archive Number: 20170805.5224370

Hemorrhagic disease (HD), caused by viruses in either the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) or bluetongue virus (BTV) groups (Reoviridae: Orbivirus), is the most important viral disease affecting white-tailed deer (_Odocoileus virginianus_) in the United States. In North America there are 3 subtypes of EHD virus (EHDV 1, 2, and 6) and 5 subtypes of BT virus (BTV 2, 10, 11, 13, and 17). Isolated cases BT viruses from infected deer were 1st reported in 1968, although white tail deer mortalities consistent with EHD/BT disease were noted as early as 1886. – Mod.PMB

EHD is most commonly found in cervids. However, several cases have occurred finding EHD or EHD2 viruses in cattle.

“The epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses belong to the genus _Orbivirus_, family _Reoviridae_. 10 serotypes of EHDV are known worldwide. The viruses of the EHDV serogroup are transmitted by biological vectors, usually biting midges in the genus _Culicoides_. In North America, _C. variipennis_ is the major vector. Some species of gnats and mosquitoes can also transmit EHDV. Infected deer can be viremic for up to 2 months. The incubation period for epizootic hemorrhagic disease in deer is 5 to 10 days.

Disease in cattle is characterized by fever, anorexia, and difficulty swallowing. The swallowing disorders are caused by damage to the striated muscles of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and tongue, and may lead to dehydration, emaciation, and aspiration pneumonia. Edema, hemorrhages, erosions, and ulcerations may be seen in the mouth, on the lips, and around the coronets. The animals may be stiff and lame, and the skin may be thickened and edematous. Abortions and stillbirths have also been reported in some epidemics. Most EHDV infections in cattle appear to be subclinical.

Typical signs include fever, oral ulcers, salivation, lameness associated with coronitis, and weight loss. In pregnant cows, the fetus may be resorbed or develop hydranencephaly if it is infected between 70 and 120 days of gestation. Deaths are uncommon with the North American strains of EHDV; however, some animals may be lame and unthrifty for a prolonged period. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease has not been reproduced in experimentally infected cattle; although animals become viremic, they remain asymptomatic.

Preferred tissues in deer are spleen, lymph node, and unclotted whole blood in EDTA or heparin. Other useful samples may include serum (for serology), liver, and lung. Both fresh and fixed tissues should be collected if possible. Samples for virus isolation should be transported under refrigeration. For suspect cases in cattle, blood should be collected into anticoagulant (calcium citrate, EDTA, or heparin) and sent chilled for virus isolation or RT-PCR. Paired serum samples should also be collected if possible. Additionally, because of other differentials, involved fluid from intact vesicles as well as aggressive swabs or biopsy samples near lesions are also suggested.”

Portions of this comment were extracted from and


[Epizootic hemorrhagic disease [EHD] is a viral disease which is often fatal to many wild ruminants, especially cervids. The acute, infectious disease is usually characterized by extensive hemorrhages. EHD is NOT the same as bluetongue disease. Although presentation may be similar, these diseases are antigenically very different.

The article from Pennsylvania seems a sad commentary on where we put funds. We seem to take no consideration to the people who watch these animals. It seems to come down to a case of no or little research being invested in this disease, or perhaps many diseases of wild deer and perhaps farmed cervids as well. Research is expensive but some of our resource may depend upon finding cures.

If you have ever been bitten by one of the midge fly, it can be painful. – Mod.TG]

In this posting:
[1] Kentucky
[2] Pennsylvania

[1] Kentucky
Date: Mon 31 Jul 2017 1:51 PM EDT
Source: Lex 18 [edited]

A deadly deer disease is hitting the population of wildlife in eastern Kentucky. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, also known as EHD is spreading in multiple counties. Reports of dead deer are being called in to fish and wildlife officials across the state.

The virus is insectborne and can fatally affect red deer and sheep. It is not contagious but can become widespread due to insect activity, specifically the midge fly.

The counties hardest hit have been Magoffin, Floyd and Knott counties.

communicated by:

[2] Pennsylvania
Date: Mon 31 Jul 2017
Source: Beaver County Times (pay wall) [edited]

When neighbors DN and KN began seeing dead deer near where they live last week [week of 24 Jul 2017], it was reminiscent of a disease that impacted local deer 2 other times in the past 10 years. “Here we go again,” DN said. In 2007 and 2012, dead deer in the Hookstown, Georgetown, and Greene Township areas [Beaver county] tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease [EHD], according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The disease is spread by midge flies that are native to the southern United States, and the flies die out after the 1st frost.

Up to 2 deer suspected to have died from the disease this month [July 2017] are being tested.

DN, of Greene Township, who leases over 460 acres [186 ha] of property for farming and hunting, is worried about what could happen to the local deer population if nothing is done, and whether cattle and horses she owns could become infected: “And it’s a very important source of meat for a lot of families.”

Matt Kramer, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said it’s unusual for the disease to turn up in the same area again and again, especially since EHD typically doesn’t occur in Pennsylvania. “The midge fly bites an infected animal, gets in the blood, transmits it to another unaffected animal who then contracts the disease, and then it goes to these areas to die,” he said. “So it’s cyclical, because if the midge fly bites the deer and then bites multiple deer and infects them, it creates a situation where you’re just infecting more and more deer in a particular area.”

They haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact reason for it, but he said it could be environmental. “There’s no proof of anything. It just seems to be that’s where they’re showing up. Now is it because people keep looking for them there 1st? We don’t know,” he said. “Having gone through that in the past 10 years, the residents in those particular areas know what they’re looking for, so they call us and say, you know, we have these suspected dying deer.”

When the disease 1st occurred 10 years ago, he estimated that hundreds of deer in the area died from it. A smaller population was infected in 2012. The midge flies that spread the disease typically live near water. Other dead deer have been found in the area, but those animals couldn’t be tested for the disease because a viable sample has to be dead for less than 10 hours, Kramer said.

While humans cannot contract the disease, other animals can get it, such as other hooved creatures like cattle. EHD in livestock or any animals besides deer has not been reported. “It’s primarily in the southern states,” Kramer said. “The deer in that particular area usually build up antibodies. Some of them are resistant do it. We just don’t have it frequently enough here for the deer to build up a resistance. So when we get it, the deer get hit hard.”

As for DN and KN, they’ve begun to grow frustrated that nothing has been done over the years. DN would like for someone to spray the area to kill the midge flies, but Kramer said the area is too large to be sprayed and the disease will “have to run its course.”

“You can’t get anybody to help us. That’s the problem. That’s what we’re upset about,” DN said. “Nobody will help us. They just let it go. And they wait for the frost, and the frost kills it off.”

[byline: Kate Malongowski]

communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

The state of Kentucky can be found on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at The state of Pennsylvania can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at Beaver County in western Pennsylvania can be seen on the map at – Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ

See Also


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease – USA (03): (SD) deer hunting license return 20161118.4637246
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease – USA (02): (SD) cervid 20161027.4588725
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease – USA: (MI) cervid 20161004.4534320


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA: (OR) new area 20140911.2766687


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA (05): (IL) 20131223.2131631
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA (04): (IA,IL) 20131123.2069995
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA (03): (MT) susp 20130925.1966717
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA (02): (MI) 20130916.1947376
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, cervids – USA: (WY, MT) 20130820.1890820 2012


Bluetongue, cervid – USA: (MO) 20120907.1285597


Bluetongue – worldwide: update 20101127.4280


Bluetongue, cervid, bovine – USA (MT) 20070922.3149

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

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