EHD suspected in deer deaths
DES MOINES — As dry weather stretches through Iowa’s summer, a few suspected cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease are being reported.
The number of mortalities reported is low, however there are reports further north in Iowa this year, than would typically be expected. Those deer would have had less exposure to 2012’s outbreak.
Approximately 20 of the dead deer were found near the Linn-Johnson county line. Many were near water, which is an indicator that EHD is present. However, the carcasses were decomposed and valid samples could not be taken. Cases have been reported as far southwest in Iowa as Harrison and Page counties.
Hemorrhagic disease is caused by a virus spread by biting insects called midges. Warm dry weather favors a buildup of the midge population and increases the likelihood of an outbreak. Once infected, the virus multiplies very quickly within a deer, causing high fever, breakdown of cell walls and dehydration.
Dead and sick animals will often be found near water. Death is caused by internal hemorrhaging and internal fluid buildup. In later stages of the disease, the animals will be lethargic, stumbling, sometimes drooling and unresponsive. Most die within one to four days after the fever begins, though some deer display varying levels of immunity to EHD.