BILLINGS — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have confirmed that EHD or epizootic hemorrhagic disease has been found in several dead whitetails along the Yellowstone River east of Billings.
Carcass samples from three different counties were sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study laboratory in Georgia (EHD is much more common in the southeast part of the country) and tests confirmed that EHD is present in Montana.
The contagious virus is spread through the bites of a midge that’s been infected. Due to the high run-off in this region, the tiny gnat-like insects are running rampant.
Montana Wildlife officials don’t believe the outbreak will have a significant impact on the whitetail population. A hard freeze kills off the infected insects, eliminating new cases of EHD.
EHD FACT SHEET
- The EHD virus is not transmissible to humans.
- The virus deteriorates in <24 hours after death and cannot be spread from dead deer carcasses
- The virus does not appear to be a threat to livestock.
- There appears to be no risk associated with direct exposure to the virus or in consuming a deer that has been infected with the virus.
- However, never kill or eat a sick deer.
- Use rubber gloves to field dress deer.
- Symptoms vary depending on virulence of the virus and resistance of the deer.
- Symptoms of EHD can be very similar to those of CWD.
- Animals may appear feverish and depressed
- Have pronounced swelling of head, neck, tongue, and eyelids
- May have respiratory distress
- Internal hemorrhaging
- Highly virulent strains may cause death in 1-3 days.
- Carcasses often recovered near water.
- Survivors may exhibit evidence of lesions in mouth and in rumen lining
- Sloughing hooves (often seen in fall harvest)