Disease Reported in Eastern Kentucky Deer - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Disease Reported in Eastern Kentucky Deer

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FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) - According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease has been reported in white-tailed deer in several counties in eastern Kentucky.

Georgia- based Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study confirmed that a Kentucky deer had a strain of the disease.

“Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is not transmittable to people or pets,” Dr. Iga Stasiak, state wildlife veterinarian for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “However, we always recommend that hunters avoid eating venison from deer that were obviously sick.”

According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, EHD is a viral disease transmitted to deer through the bite of a midge or gnat. 

Gabe Jenkins, big game coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, said small outbreaks of EHD also have been reported in the mountainous areas of Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is receiving a growing number of suspected cases.

“We’re monitoring this situation closely,” Jenkins said. “If we receive little rain between now and the first frost, the numbers could increase because deer are drawn to water. Midges breed along mud banks, so drought would concentrate the deer around larger bodies of water and make them more susceptible to infection.”

Deer can exhibit signs of illness within 24 to 72 hours after receiving a bite from an infected midge. Infected deer may appear sluggish and unresponsive to humans. EHD causes dehydration and fever in deer, which causes the animals to seek water. Infected deer are often found dead near bodies of water.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says that the viruses that cause EHD do not infect humans, and people will not contract these diseases from eating meat from infected animals. Deer with EHD may be more susceptible to other diseases, however, and consumption of a sick-looking animal is not advised.

Anyone who finds a sick deer or a deer they suspect may have died from EHD is encouraged to report the finding to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at 1-800-858-1549.

Reports can also be emailed to info.center@ky.gov. Reports should include your name, contact information, county and date the deer was found, number of deer found and whether the deer is sick or recently deceased.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is also urging hunters to report any observations of deer that appear to have died of natural causes.

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