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DNR seeking EHD in deer

October 10, 2012 - On Sept. 30 a Brandon resident near Hurd and Granger roads reported a sick adult female deer lying in the front yard.

According to reports, the deer would not move when approached and could barely keep her head in an upright position. The deer did not have any obvious external injuries and appeared to be dazed.

The Brandon deputy that responded euthanized the animal and contacted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The animal's carcass was transported to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources office in Lansing for analysis.

Tom Cooley, DNR wildlife biologist and pathologist examined the deer for Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).

The disease is an acute, infectious, viral disease found in wild ruminants like white-tailed deer. EHD is transmitted from deer to deer through the bite of a midge (small fly) called a biological vector. EHD does not affect humans, so edibility of the venison is not impacted by this disease. There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus either from the midge or from handling and eating venison.

While EHD has not been documented in Oakland County, new cases have been reported in Genesee County including Theatford, Argentine, Mundy, and Richfield townships.

"There was nothing I could find on the deer that indicated EHD," said Cooley. "I examined the brain and the eyes, there was blood in the chest cavity, however, that may have been from the deputy's bullet. In addition, the histopath lab found no lesions consistent with EHD or chronic wasting disease.

"If hunters are concerned they may see the fluid, possibly yellow in color, just under the skin on the legs, on the neck or head area. It's obvious. There will be excessive bleeding and often blood in the pericardium—the sac around the heart. It's also possible the deer won't be acting right. If you see that, report to the local field office where they saw it, first person.

Because dead deer do not harbor EHD and cannot infect other deer, Cooley said it's fine to leave carcasses. It's also fine to bury dead deer at a sufficient depth so that no parts are showing above ground. Finally, carcasses will be accepted at landfills that accept household solid waste.

Anyone discovering concentrations of dead deer or those seeking more information can contact their local wildlife biologist at the nearest DNR office. Office locations can be found at www.michigan.gov/wildlife under Wildlife Offices.

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