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Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Possibly Found in NJ Deer Herd

September 7, 2007

Personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) are investigating a possible outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in deer in Hillsborough Township, Somerset County.

A hunter scouting for the upcoming deer season called the Division of Fish and Wildlife and reported finding 15 dead deer on his hunting club property. A dead deer fawn was recovered from the property by Fish and Wildlife biologists on the morning of September 7 that did exhibit visual signs of having EHD. The pathologist from the DFW’s Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics is performing the necessary laboratory tests in order to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.

EHD is a common viral disease in deer contracted from the bite of insects called biting midges. New Jersey has had occasional and localized outbreaks of EHD documented in 1955 (Morris and Somerset Counties,) 1975 (Warren and Sussex Counties) and 1999 in Salem County.

The disease causes high fever and hemorrhaging from the mouth, nose and eyes before death. Deer may go to water to cool off or drink. In northern states EHD usually kills the animal within five to 10 days. It is not spread from deer to deer.

Humans cannot contract EHD and although some EHD symptoms are similar to those for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) such as excessive drooling, weakness and a loss of fear of humans, there is no relationship between EHD and CWD.

The EHD outbreak should end with the onset of colder weather, which will kill the insects that spread the disease.

The Fall archery deer season in New Jersey begins in many of the agricultural and suburban areas of the state on Saturday, September 8. Hunters observing deer acting abnormally are advised to not harvest the deer, but rather report their observations to Dr. Douglas Roscoe at 908-735-6398.

EHD outbreaks have been confirmed this year in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: September 7, 2007