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Rare Virus Killing Deer In Parts Of Region

Deer
Deer Photo Credit: Pixabay

Dozens of dead white-tailed deer found at separate locations in parts of the region are now being linked to a rare virus.

After conducting tests, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  confirmed that several white-tailed deer in the towns of Nelsonville and Cold Spring in Putnam County and near Goshen in Orange County died after contracting Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). 

EHD virus is carried by biting midges, small bugs often called no-see-ums or 'punkies,' according to the DEC.

Once infected with EHD, deer usually die within 36 hours. The disease is not spread from deer to deer or from deer to humans.

EHD is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that cannot be contracted by humans, the DEC said. 

Wildlife biologists collected half a dozen deer carcasses in Putnam County and submitted the carcasses to the Wildlife Health Unit for necropsy, the DEC said.

Tissue samples were sent to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University where the preliminary diagnosis of EHD was confirmed. 

The DEC also sent samples of four deer from Orange County where the preliminary diagnosis of EHD was also confirmed.

The EHD virus was first confirmed in New York in 2007 in Albany, Rensselaer, and Niagara counties, and in Rockland County in 2011. 

EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when midges are abundant. 

EHD symptoms include fever, hemorrhage in muscle or organs, swelling of the head, neck, tongue, and lips. 

A deer infected with EHD may appear lame or dehydrated. 

Frequently, infected deer will seek out water sources and many succumb near a water source, the DEC added.

There is no treatment for nor means to prevent EHD. The dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals.

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