Monday, August 20, 2012

EHD beginning to appear in Ohio

Ohio is beginning to see the arrival of the drought-driven Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) with 13 captively raised deer in Middlefield Township having recently died from the almost-always fatal disease.

Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife's deer management administrator, says that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has confirmed the 13 deaths from a herd of about 120 captively raised animals.

This herd is located in Geauga County's Middlefield Township.

It is the state's Agriculture Department which now administers captive deer-breeding operations.

What's more, says Tonkovich, a northern Portage County landowner has reported seeing several dead deer along the Upper Cuyahoga River, just downstream from Geauga County.

Other dead deer have been found along a water course in Monroe County as well, says Tonkovich.

"That would be a good indicator of the presence of EDH though not for certain," Tonkovich says. "We need a freshly dead deer to confirm this."

EHD is a typically fatal viral disease. It is found in wild ruminants like deer, causing extensive internal bleeding and is transmitted solely by a midge, a flying critter about the size of a course-ground black pepper flake.

A characteristic of the disease is its sudden onset. An infected deer loses its appetite and fear of humans, grows progressively weaker, salivates excessively, and finally become unconscious.

Due to an accompanying high fever, an infected deer is often found sick or dead along or in bodies of water. And it is here where the disease is carried by midges, super-tiny insects that need a blood host.

Importantly, however, biologists also say, there is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus.

The previous serious EHD outbreak that happened in Ohio were in 2005 and 2007, Tonkovich said in an earlier posting on the subject.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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