In addition to the news of chronic wasting disease popping up in Pennsylvania and Wyoming last month, officials in both Pennsylvania and Kentucky are reporting cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD.
The fatal disease, which happens to be the most common among whitetail deer, is transmitted through midge bites. Typically transmitted in the southern United States, it can take a number of weeks to show physical symptoms in affected whitetails that often include fever, swelling of the head, neck, tongue and eyelids and loss of appetite. Soon enough, affected deer lose their natural fear of threats such as humans and as fluid builds up in the lungs and symptoms get worse, affected animals will seek out water and eventually succumb to the disease.
The bright side of the disease is that deer often exposed to the bites of affected midge flies, such as the ones in the southern U.S., are able to build up antibodies to combat the disease.
“It’s primarily in the southern states,” Pennsylvania Conservation Officer Kramer told The Times. “The deer in that particular area usually build up antibodies. Some of them are resistant do it. We just don’t have it frequently enough here for the deer to build up a resistance. So when we get it, the deer get hit hard.”
Over the past couple of weeks, Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife had been fielding a number of calls relating to dead deer in the eastern portion of the state suspected to have contracted the disease.
Additionally, Pennsylvania officials are in the process of testing a pair of deer suspected to have the disease after the disease wreaked havoc on deer populations in both 2007 and 2012.
The disease is not contractible by humans but does affect other species such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, antelope and livestock such as cattle.