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Illinois Hunters, Landowners Encouraged to Report Suspected EHD

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has received reports of 26 suspected cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) so far in 2017. Scattered reports from the southern two-thirds of the state (see map attached) involving a few animals suggests that EHD has been very light this year, to date. However, recent unseasonably warm temperatures coupled with prolonged dry conditions throughout the state suggest that EHD may increase this fall.

Illinois’ top year for reported cases of EHD was 2012, when 2,043 cases were reported from 76 counties. In 2013, IDNR received reports of 403 cases from 51 counties. EHD was virtually absent in 2014 and at low levels in 2015 and 2016.

IDNR continues to ask landowners, hunters, and concerned citizens to be on the lookout for dead or dying deer, and to report suspected EHD cases to their local IDNR field office, or to the IDNR Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species Program (WDIS). IDNR is especially interested in sick or recently dead animals, as staff may attempt to collect tissue samples in order to confirm the presence of the EHD virus.

Contact information for local IDNR biologists is available at the following link: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/professionals.cfm. Contact the WDIS Program at 815-369-2414 or by email at doug.dufford@illinois.gov. Please provide your name and contact information, as well as the county, number of dead/sick deer, sex (if known), age (fawn or adult) and specific location of the deer (distance/direction from the nearest town or intersection of two roads).

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that can cause localized die-offs when conditions are favorable for transmission. Infected animals develop a high fever and dead animals often are found near water sources. Hunters may encounter deer killed by EHD when they go into the woods during the upcoming deer hunting seasons. EHD outbreaks typically end when freezing weather kills the insects that spread the virus. While often fatal to deer, EHD is not hazardous to humans or pets. EHD has been shown to affect livestock, so producers are encouraged to be vigilant.

The virus is transmitted between deer by a midge that hatches from muddy areas along lakes/ponds and streams/rivers. Although EHD is observed somewhere in Illinois every year, cases are more numerous during hot and dry weather conditions, presumably because receding water levels create these muddy areas, providing breeding sites for the midges. Limited water resources also congregate deer at remaining watering sites, creating conditions favorable for disease transmission.

Map showing the distribution of 2017 EHD-suspected deer reports as of September 27 https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/14876-IDNR_Epizootic_Hemorrhagic_Disease_Release_and_Map.pdf