Recent reports of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease(EHD), a viral disease in deer, are being monitored by Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources.

EHD’s symptoms can seem like Chronic Wasting Disease(CWD), but it is much less worrisome to the Commonwealth’s Deer Biologists.

Todd Englemyer, the biologist who covers Accomack & Northampton County, said EHD needs to go through deer herds to ensure they have the antibodies to survive the virus.

“The longer the herd isn’t exposed, weaker the antibodies are,” he said. “Then you’ll see more cases.”

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The virus is spread by midges, a tiny biting fly, similar to a noseeum or gnat. EHD is more prevalent during drought, because dry weather exposes mud flats where midges hatch.

“We’ve had quite a few cases on the Eastern Shore, but it’s been similar to other areas,” added Englemyer.

While the virus may worry hunters and wildlife enthusiasts, it is in no way a danger to humans. Humans cannot contract EHD in anyway, whether you come in contact with a sick deer or if you ate the meat of an infected deer.

“Sometimes we see secondary effects. If deer is in poor shape, laying in water to control fever, stumbling around, other secondary symptoms, like an infection, those you would not want to consume,” he said. “Look for puss or foul smell.”

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While EHD is not a major cause for concern for the state’s biologists, they still want to hear when there is a suspected infection.

“If you think you’ve come across a deer with EHD, please call the DWR’s Wildlife Hotline at 1-855-571-9003. You can also email vawildlifeconflict@aphis.usda.gov.”

The DWR also gets information from hunt clubs looking for harvested deer with for clumped hooves, a sign the deer has survived the infection, which gives the them an idea on antibodies within herds.

Englemyer also emphasized the importance of following the State’s CWD regulations when hunting out of the area or out of the state.

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“HD’s symptoms sometimes mimic more significant disease like chronic wasting disease. Statistically we don’t have that on the Eastern Shore. People need to be aware of requirements if they hunt elsewhere in state and out of state so they don’t bring CWD to Shore. “

He added that overall the deer population in Accomack and Northampton Counties is very health, robust and abundant even.

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