Disease found in white-tailed deer in West Virginia

West Virginia

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce
White-tailed deer

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia is currently experiencing an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in its white-tailed deer herd, according to the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia DNR.

The DNR said in a release that so far this year, deer have been found dead in small areas of Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier counties. The release stated the EHD, virus serotype 2 (EHDV-2) has been isolated from Summers County. Hemorrhagic Disease can be caused by either EHDV or Blue Tongue Virus (BTV,) according to the release.

The release stated that West Virginia samples were sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study located at Georgia University, where they isolated and identified the virus at EHDV-2. The DNR said that although this disease usually doesn’t have a major impact on the deer population, the Wildlife Resources Section is surveying the extent of the outbreak in the state. EHDV may cause local reductions in the deer heard of 20% or less, according to the release.

“The disease disappears with the first frost, because the spread of the virus is dependent on small midges called Culicoides that are killed by cold temperatures,” said Gary Foster, assistant chief in charge of game management for DNR.

The release stated that EHD doesn’t occur in West Virginia each year and that the largest outbreaks of this disease within the state were in 1996, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017. EHDV does not persist in deer that survive infection, according to the DNR.

“Although hunters should never consume an obviously sick deer, EHDV is not a reason for hunters to be concerned about consuming their deer,” Foster said.

The DNR stated the disease is not contagious to humans, and EHDV is not related to chronic wasting disease, which has only been detected in Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral and Morgan counties.

The DNR is urging landowners and hunters in the Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier county region to report sick or dead deer to the DNR District 4 Office in Beckley at 304-256-6947. If landowners find sick or dead deer in other regions of the state, they are urged to contact their appropriate DNR district office.

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