EHD outbreaks were reported in Ohio and Indiana

According to a recent report from the National Deer Association (NDA), a serious outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is currently infecting white-tailed deer in parts of Ohio and Indiana. EHD is an infectious, viral disease that affects deer, elk, antlers and sheep. It is transmitted by biting mules known as “no seers”. The disease is known to kill a significant number of deer across the country each year, especially in the Southeast.

“The biggest takeaway from our report is simply that the two main hot spots are Ohio and Indiana. “It’s actually the same outbreak because it’s in eastern Indiana and southwestern Ohio along the border,” says NDA Chief Communications Officer Lindsay Thomas. “The outbreak in Ohio has expanded to most of the state.”

Early fall is a typical time of year for EHD outbreaks. The NDA says 12 more states have detected EHD this year, as of Sept. 21, 2022, but the only significant outbreaks are in Ohio and Indiana. Other states with light regional activity include Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois and New Hampshire.

“This is something that comes up every summer and early fall,” Thomas says. “What we are seeing is the typical increase in cases across the country. But Ohio and Indiana are the most prominent, where it is most serious. I wouldn’t call this a devastating explosion, but it’s worrying.”

Ohio has confirmed EHD in more than 13 counties, while Indiana is seeing significant disease outbreaks in Wayne, Union, Fayette and Franklin counties. In response, the Indiana DNR has reduced the antlerless deer bonus quota in those counties. Thomas emphasizes the importance of hunters reporting deer infected with EHD.

dead deer carcass
This dead body from a 2012 explosion was found near water – a key indicator that EHD was the cause of death. National Deer Association

“It is very important that deer hunters wherever they come across sick or dead deer report it to their state agency immediately. That’s the only way agencies stay on top of these outbreaks and can test deer for the disease,” he says. “When officials know there’s a significant enough mortality, they can respond with regulatory changes to limit the hunter harvest to mitigate long-term impacts on deer populations.”

Read more: New Hampshire reports first case of EHD

Thomas adds that it is difficult to say whether the outbreaks will continue or spread, or whether other serious outbreaks will occur. The prevalence of EHD depends on the activity of the mule. With the first real frost of the year, the blasts will likely die. But until then, they may persist or worsen. Still, Thomas says as long as agencies adapt to outbreaks in a responsible way, the long-term outlook isn’t dire at all.

“The biggest thing to understand about EHD is that in the long run, these losses are not going to be permanent or even long-term,” he says. “Deer populations recover very quickly, even in areas that we consider very hard hit. For the decades we’ve been studying this disease, deer populations have been doing well.”

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