Deadly virus reappears in Houston County deer herd

A deadly virus transmitted to deer by biting midges has been confirmed in two white-tailed farmed deer in Houston County. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says the owner submitted samples because of the deers’ suspicious deaths.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease was first confirmed in Minnesota deer in 2018 on a deer farm in Goodhue County. Most deer die within 36 hours of exhibiting clinical signs of EHD.

The two deer were part of a herd of 60.

“The owner reports no additional mortality and is actively working to repel and reduce biting midges from their property. Deer remain at risk until the first hard frost of the season,” said Dr. Linda Glaser, board assistant director, in a statement.

The disease affects members of the deer family, or Cervidae, and there are no known health risks to people.

Many different deer species may be infected, but white-tailed deer are highly susceptible and experience high rates of mortality. Clinical signs can include fever, anorexia, lethargy, stiffness, respiratory distress, oral ulcers and severe swelling of the head and neck.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine available in the United States.

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