Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is an acute, infectious, viral disease found in wild ruminants like white-tailed deer.
EHD is transmitted to deer from the bite of a small fly (generally known as midge, gnat or no-see-um) which carries the virus.
The disease presents itself in late summer and early fall (August – October) and disappears with the first frost.
An infected deer will develop symptoms approximately 7 days after exposure and exhibit symptoms including loss of appetite, loss of fear of man, weakness, excessive salivation, rapid pulse and fever. Dead deer are often found near water sources, in an attempt to quench thirst and cool fever. Deer die from 1-3 days after disease is pronounced.
EHD does not appear to affect humans and is not fatal if contracted by general livestock.
Since the late 1800′s, outbreaks of deer deaths have been reported which may be attributable to EHD, although the disease was not codified until 1955, when deer populations in New Jersey and Michigan succumbed to the disease. The disease primarily affects white-tailed deer, and die-offs have been confirmed in several areas of the US and Canada throughout the years since 1955.
Due to the drought conditions in the summer of 2012, the gnat population dramatically increased, causing the decimation of the deer populations in several localities throughout the US.