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Oh, Deer: NY Reports First 2022 Case Of Deadly Virus

White-tailed deer.
White-tailed deer. Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Gil Paradis

The first 2022 case of an often-fatal disease of deer has been confirmed in New York.

A white-tailed deer in Dutchess County, in the hamlet of Dover Plains, died after contracting Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has just announced.

The disease is not spread directly from deer to deer and humans cannot be infected by deer or bites from midges, small bugs often called "no-see-ums," who spread the virrus.

The EHD virus was first confirmed in New York in 2007 with relatively small outbreaks in Albany, Rensselaer, and Niagara counties, and in Rockland County in 2011, the DEC said. 

In 2020, a large EHD outbreak occurred in the lower Hudson Valley, centered in Putnam and Orange counties, with reports from the public of approximately 1,500 dead deer. 

In 2021 the outbreak shifted and DEC received more than 2,000 reports of dead deer primarily in Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Oswego, and Jefferson counties.

Once infected with EHD, deer usually die within 36 hours, the DEC said. 

"EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when midges are abundant. Symptoms include fever, hemorrhage in muscle or organs, and swelling of the head, neck, tongue, and lips," said the DEC.

"A deer infected with EHD may appear lame or dehydrated," the DEC added. "Frequently, infected deer will seek out water sources and many succumb near a water source. There is no treatment or means to prevent EHD. The dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals."

Several other deer deaths are now under investigation and New Yorkers are being asked to report sightings of sick or dying deer here, the DEC said.

For more on EHD from the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab, click here.

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