Minnesota confirms outbreak of deadly deer disease

Minnesota confirms outbreak of deadly deer disease
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, known as EHD, isn’t contagious but can sharply reduce deer herds before the danger concludes with the first frost, according to state wildlife officials. (Source: Minnesota DNR)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A deadly deer virus has been confirmed in a group of whitetails in central Minnesota.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, known as EHD, isn’t contagious but can sharply reduce deer herds before the danger concludes with the first frost, according to state wildlife officials.

The outbreak in Stearns County is said to have killed up to 20 or more deer. Two deer carcasses were tested for the disease and both were positive at National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced the lab results Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.

“All of our neighboring states have been dealing with EHD for years,” said DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli. “So it was always a question of when it would show up in Minnesota.”

The rapidly developing disease is carried by biting midges, also known as gnats and no-see-ums. Most deer die within 36 hours of exhibiting signs of the virus.

The disease initially showed up in Minnesota last year on a deer farm, ultimately killing six animals.

The DNR urged the public to report deer deaths, Cornicelli said, particularly when numbers of deer die in proximity to each other for unknown causes.

Deer stricken by EHD have frequently died near water because fevers caused by the virus make them thirsty.

Michelle Carstensen, a DNR wildlife health group leader, said Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa were previously struck hard by EHD.

The virus triggers mouth ulcerations, head swelling and neck and lung hemorrhaging. It’s not known to spread to humans.

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