Emerald shiner crunch a bit tighter this year

EHD confirmed in cattle from region

By Mike
Moore

Editor

Cynthiana, Ohio – Ohio’s deer hunters aren’t the only folks
hoping for some cool weather sooner rather than later this
fall.

The DNR Division of Wildlife is also in that camp given that a
common white-tailed deer virus is suspected in one area of the
Buckeye State.

The only thing that can effectively stop it is a good
freeze.

The occurrence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) was first
confirmed on Aug. 30 by the Ohio Department of Agriculture at two
cattle farms in Pike County. Since then, it is suspected in the
deaths of about 30 deer in the region near Paint Creek and Rocky
Fork state parks, said Dave Kohler, a wildlife management
supervisor for the DNR Division of Wildlife in southwest Ohio. The
disease is carried by midges, or gnats, and other biting
insects.

‘We don’t have anything conclusive to this point, but we have
had some deer that have died,’ Kohler said, adding that the cause
is suspected to be EHD. ‘When we get a good frost, it will kill the
midges and that will be the end of it.’

This marks the state’s first-ever case of the virus in cattle,
but it did occur in deer as recently as 2003 in Clermont and Brown
counties in southwest Ohio.

In the most recent outbreak, the Division of Wildlife has sent
deer carcasses to the ODA for testing, Kohler said.

Officials stress that it poses no threat to human health or to
the safety of meat consumption. Wildlife officials also stress that
EHD is much different than Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal deer
malady that has never been found in Ohio.

Officials with the ODA Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in
Reynoldsburg confirmed EHD in the cattle populations. In the Pike
County cattle, officials identified a wild strain of the EHD virus,
which will run its course much like the common flu. In deer, EHD is
typically fatal.

Both cattle and deer contract EHD from gnats or biting flies.
The virus cannot be spread from animal to animal or from animal to
humans. Insects, however, can contract the virus from infected deer
or cattle and pass it on to surrounding populations.

This summer’s drought has forced animals and insects to common
watering spots, increasing the spread of EHD, according to the ODA.
Typically, the onset of cold weather suppresses the disease as
frosts drives insects into winter inactivity.

According to the University of Georgia’s annual Southeastern
Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, EHD is the most common ailment
affecting deer in the eastern United States.

Outbreaks of the disease have occurred in Indiana, Kentucky,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia this year. It
has been particularly troublesome in Kentucky, where wildlife
officials say EHD is suspected of killing deer this summer in 25
counties.

‘It’s all around us,’ said Dave Scott, a research administrator
for the Division of Wildlife. ‘It’s generally associated with
drought conditions and extreme heat, which limits the insects and
the deer to a few small water spots where they come into higher
contact (with one another) than normal.’

EHD is different from CWD because the former can affect all age
classes of deer where CWD doesn’t generally show up in younger
deer, Scott said. CWD can also be spread from animal to animal,
which is not the case with EHD.

Symptoms of deer afflicted by EHD can include extensive
salivation, loss of coordination, hemorrhaging and general
disorientation. There’s no cure or immunization for the disease,
Kohler said.

With the start of bow season just a couple of weeks away (Sept.
29), the Division of Wildlife is trying to determine the depth and
breadth of the problem, Kohler said.

‘We will continue to monitor the situation and then try to get
an indication of how widespread this is and what kind of impact
it’s going to have locally,’ Kohler said. ‘With EHD, you’ll
certainly have a localized impact on the deer herd wherever it
occurs, but the deer will respond quickly to repopulate the
following year.’

Anyone who encounters obviously sick deer should phone the
Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE.

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