South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is currently documenting a few deer being found dead in Perkins County, South Dakota.Posted August 30, 2013
Early reports suggest the problem may be hemorrhagic disease, also known as epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or blue tongue.
This disease is common in white-tailed deer and is typically detected in late summer or early fall. Although other animals including mule deer and livestock can be infected by the biting midge it is unlikely to cause death. EHD cannot be transferred directly from animal to animal, and EHD is not infectious to humans.
The virus is spread by a biting midge and causes extensive internal hemorrhaging. Many deer exhibit no clinical signs and appear perfectly healthy, while others may have symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, and swelling of the tongue. With highly virulent strains of the virus, deer can be dead within 1-3 days. Affected deer are often found near low lying areas or in near water like a river or a pond. This is due to the deer attempting to go to the water to combat the high fever.
Although this disease has not yet been confirmed through laboratory testing, the symptoms that local conservation officers and field staff are describing appear much like hemorrhagic disease.
Currently South Dakota Game Fish and parks is recording all reported deer die offs and would like to test some sick deer to confirm what is causing the die off. We ask that anyone observing a sick or dead deer to report them to Wildlife Conservation officer Keith Mutschler at 605-374-7726.
EHD outbreaks can be locally severe, but rarely affect more than 25 percent of a local deer population. In rare cases, it will affect more than 50 perdent. Deer can continue to succumb to this disease until a hard freeze reduces midge populations that carry the disease.