Florida is the latest state to report the presence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in its white-tailed deer herd. This viral disease has been confirmed in two deer and suspected in at least 10 others from North Florida that were examined this year.
EHD is an insect-borne disease, transmitted to deer by small biting flies known as midges or “no-see-ums.” The disease can cause illness or death in individual deer but should disappear when freezing temperatures halt insect activity. EHD cannot be transmitted to humans or pets; however, as a general rule, people should avoid consuming sick or unhealthy deer.
“This is a disease that you typically see in late summer or the fall, and it often occurs after periods of drought,” said Dr. Mark Cunningham, wildlife veterinarian for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “The good news is we don’t expect long-term impacts to our state’s deer herd.”
Deer infected with EHD may have pronounced swelling of the head, neck, and tongue, and often have large ulcers in the mouth. Infected deer are often found near water and may be lethargic, lame and emaciated.
The FWC is monitoring the health of the state’s deer herd and is examining deer for EHD and other diseases. Sightings of sick or dead deer can be reported to the FWC by calling 866-CWD-WATCH (866-293-9282), which is the state’s chronic wasting disease hotline number.
In addition to Florida, at least 12 other states are reporting EHD cases.