Deadly deer disease spreads to Mid-Michigan - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Deadly deer disease spreads to Mid-Michigan

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(09/19/12) - A deadly disease impacting the state's deer population, has made it's way to Mid-Michigan.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, has been detected in at least 22 counties around the state, including Saginaw and Shiawassee.

Prior to 2006, EHD had only been found twice in Michigan. Since then, it's been detected in the six of the last seven years. This year, it's showing up in record numbers.

Brent Rudolph, who is the deer and elk program leader at the Rose Lake Field Office of the DNR, says we're seeing so many cases this year, in large part, because of Mother Nature. Our mild winter failed to kill off the adult midges that carry the disease. Then came a long, dry summer that provided the perfect breeding ground.

The Department of Natural Resources says meat from an infected deer will not hurt humans. But they are asking that hunters report any possible cases they see.

People living in Shiawassee County are just learning about the disease.

That includes Dave Botts, an avid hunter and salesman at Matt's Gun and Archery in Perry. "Michigan is just famous for being a deer hunting state."

Botts says the fall hunting and shopping season is already here. "We've sold a number of crossbows recently."

This weekend, kids and disabled veterans get the first chance to harvest a deer. While they hunt, the DNR wants them to watch for animals infected with EHD.

"Often it's drooling or salivating excessively. It will just look very sick. It may look very disoriented, a lot of times folks say you can walk right up to it and it doesn't react to you," Rudolph explained.

People are finding groups of dead deer, often near water. "They run a very high fever, which is probably part of why they're seen in water, they're heading to water to cool off," Rudolph said.

After concerns about Bovine Tuberculosis and Chronic Wasting Disease in recent years, the folks at Matt's were hoping for a trouble-free season. "There are some people that it will just scare them off," Bott said.

But Rudolph, says EHD should not keep people out of the woods. "Trying to reiterate that there's not a human health concern here."

Rudolph adds, relief is in sight. "When we get the first frost, it knocks back these midges, that the chance for transmitting the disease stops."

Botts says that frost can't come soon enough. In the meantime, he plans to do some research. "More informed you are, the better it is. Don't really want to take any chances. It's not worth it."

Click HERE for more information about EHD, from the DNR.

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