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Virus Claiming Deer in Iowa

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DES MOINES IA - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is receiving scattered reports of dead deer around water. This is likely the result of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD.

“Losses due to EHD occur annually, usually at low levels and in localized areas,” said Dr. Dale Garner, chief of Wildlife for the Iowa DNR. “In dry years it can be worse as deer are more concentrated around water and since the disease is spread by a biting midge more deer can become infected. This could be one of those years and DNR staff have been on the lookout for increased incidence of the disease.”

EHD causes high fever in deer and their cell walls in their heart, lungs and diaphragm to weaken and burst. Infected deer are attracted to water to combat the fever and dehydration due to the hemorrhaging.

“The last widespread outbreak in Iowa was 1998. Even then the impact on hunting was minimal,” said Garner.

If anyone sees a sick or dead deer near water, they should call their local conservation officer or wildlife biologist.

“We would like to collect tissue samples to identify what strain of EHD we are dealing with and to rule out any other cause of death,” Garner said.

The disease is also showing up in Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. EHD remains active until rain disperses the deer or a heavy frost kills the midges.

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