Farmed deer serve as sentinel for disease as virus seen in 2018 re-emerges in southeast Minnesota

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Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has been confirmed in two white-tailed farmed deer in Houston County after the owner submitted samples because of their suspicious deaths. The virus is transmitted by biting midges and was first confirmed in Minnesota deer in 2018 on a white-tailed deer farm in Goodhue County. Most deer die within 36 hours of exhibiting clinical signs of EHD.

“The two deer were part of a herd of 60 white-tailed deer,” said Board Assistant Director, Dr. Linda Glaser. “The owner reports no additional mortality and is actively working to repel and reduce biting midges from their property. Deer remain at risk until the first hard frost of the season.”

EHD affects members of the deer family, Cervidae, and there are no known health risks to people. Many different deer species may be infected with EHD, and white-tailed deer are highly susceptible, and experience high rates of mortality. Clinical signs can include: fever, anorexia, lethargy, stiffness, respiratory distress, oral ulcers, and severe swelling of the head and neck. Sporadic cases occur in other species of cervids and hoofstock. There is no specific treatment or vaccine available in the U.S.