SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has received reports of 53 suspected cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) so far in 2016. EHD appears to be more prevalent in east-central and northeastern Illinois counties, including Cook, Lake and Vermilion counties where tests have confirmed the presence of the disease and 40 cases have been reported. In all, reports have come from nine counties (see attached map).
Scattered suspected EHD cases have been reported across the remainder of Illinois, including Adams, Fulton, Macoupin, Madison, Mason and White counties involving a total of 11 deer.
The worst year for EHD in Illinois was 2012 when 2,043 cases were reported from 76 counties. In 2013, IDNR received reports of 403 cases from 51 counties. EHD was virtually absent in 2014 and low levels were reported in 2015.
IDNR continues to ask landowners, hunters, and concerned citizens to be on the lookout for dead or dying deer, and to report suspected EHD cases to their local IDNR field office, or to the IDNR Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species Program (WDIS). IDNR is especially interested in sick or recently dead animals, as staff may attempt to collect tissue samples in order to confirm the presence of the EHD virus.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that can cause localized die-offs when conditions are favorable for transmission. Infected animals develop a high fever, and dead animals often are found near water sources. Hunters may encounter deer killed by EHD when they go into the woods during the upcoming deer hunting seasons. EHD outbreaks typically end when freezing weather kills the insects that spread the virus. While often fatal to deer, EHD is not hazardous to humans or pets. EHD has been shown to affect livestock, so producers are encouraged to be vigilant.
The virus is transmitted between deer by a midge that hatches from muddy areas along lakes/ponds and streams/rivers. Although EHD is observed somewhere in Illinois every year, cases are more numerous during hot and dry summer weather conditions, presumably because receding water levels create these muddy areas, providing breeding sites for the midges. Limited water resources also congregate deer at remaining watering sites, creating conditions favorable for disease transmission.