The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics (OFWHF) has confirmed reports of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Deer Management Zone 63 a.k.a. Salem County, New Jersey. Authorities estimate as many as 80 whitetail deer have perished from EHD in the period from mid-September to mid-October, 2010.
Since 1890s, North Americans have witnessed mass whitetail deaths and experts are increasingly convinced EHD may have been to blame. These early micro-epidemics were variously diagnosed as blackleg, blacktongue, bluetongue, mycotic stomatitis or hemorrhagic septicemia, often incorrectly as, due to the confines of contemporary medicine, the causative agents in these deaths could not previously be confirmed. A broad review of the case histories and in particular the lack of a bacterial agent in a majority of these occurrences suggests that they might have been EHD.
Midge flies transmit the virus from one infected animal to the other and it should be noted that it is not transmissible to humans. The approaching winter weather will put an end to midge fly activity until spring and the outbreak is not expected to continue into the months ahead.
Regardless, be aware of the condition and recognize it when afield. Deer drooling or foaming from the mouth and nose and deer that have difficulty standing or fleeing could be suffering from EHD—symptoms that are almost identical to Chronic Wasting Disease which is essentially deer Mad Cow Disease.
Also be aware that any deer found dead in water or near water with no apparent wounds should be considered suspect EHD cases and the OFWHF should be notified immediately by calling 908-735-6398.
For more information on the outbreak click here to visit the NJDEP Divsion of Wildlife’s website.