COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohioans are reminded that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) typically affects some white-tailed deer in the late summer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. This is not unusual, as EHD is the most common ailment affecting deer in the eastern U.S., and the disease occurs annually in the late summer and fall in deer herds across North America. Ohio has documented some cases of EHD this summer, mostly in northwest Ohio.
The EHD virus is not infectious to people and is not spread from animal to animal. It is transmitted by the bite of small insects called midges, so EHD-associated deaths in deer can occur until the first frost of the year causes a decline in midge activity. Once infected, deer show symptoms within five to 10 days, and many deer die within 36 hours of the onset of symptoms. There is little that can be done to protect wild deer from the virus. Outbreaks of EHD can result in high deer mortality in some areas but populations typically increase within a few years.
White-tailed deer, along with mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope are susceptible to the disease. Deer infected with this virus may show symptoms including lethargy, head hung down, loss of fear of humans, swelling of the tongue and head and neck, difficulty breathing, and excess salivation. Affected deer are often found in or near bodies of water, likely because of fever and dehydration.
People should always avoid touching or handling sick or dead wild animals. Sightings of sick or dead deer should be reported at wildohio.gov/reportwildlife, your local Ohio wildlife officer, or wildlife district office.