Updates made to the DEC on hemorrhagic disease to deer

Bill Conners

It was just last week that I raised an alarm about Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in our whitetail deer. At that time, it was “the other guy’s” problem because it had only been reported in counties to the south and west of us here in Dutchess. The situation has since changed.

This weekend I took a call from a hunter who informed me he was watching a deer that was drooling or foaming at the mouth and seemed very unconcerned about its surroundings. At that moment, it was standing in the middle on the road in front of his truck.  (See link for article)



Reports of positive deer in VA, WV, and OH with suspect cases reported in NJ. PA Department of Agriculture has confirmed EHD in a deer from a captive facility in Crawford County in the NW region.

EHD was first confirmed in 2007.  Outbreaks occur when biting flies or midges are prolific in late summer and early fall. Midges prefer mud for a breeding habitat, and deer outbreaks occur when they congregate in these wet, muddy areas during the dry season.  Thankfully a hard frost kills the flies, killing the virus with it.

Symptoms in deer:

  • fever
  • hemorrhage in muscle or organs
  • swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips
  • lameness
  • dehydration

There are no treatments or prevention methods, but the dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals.  The article states while the illness is rare in the North, outbreaks occur.

The author states:

Although there is no evidence that humans can contract the disease through midge bites or by consuming venison that has been infected with EHD, my personal advice is to pass up any opportunity to harvest and consume any animals showing signs of sickness.

He also recommends contacting your state department if you encounter sick or dead deer, particularly if there is more than one deer in an area or if carcasses are found near water. 


EHD with Tom Cooley and the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at MSU.

Autopsy results shows fluid accumulation found under the skin, around the muscles, and deposits of blood in the chest cavity, stomach, intestines, and hemorrhaging.  

While he states humans can eat this infected meat, I would err on the side of caution.