Genesee County deer tests positive for EHD

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (9/20/2017) - A deer has been located in Genesee County suffering from the potentially fatal epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which strikes free-range deer and elk.

A press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued Wednesday doesn't say specifically where in the county the deer was located. However, the deer had died from the disease, which is transmitted by the midge fly.

DNR officials are asking hunters and property owners in the region to be on the lookout for dead or ailing deer.

“Although this has been a single deer death at this point, we are asking for hunters to look around as they hit the field to let us know if they find dead deer, especially any near water,” said Tom Cooley, DNR wildlife pathologist.

Michigan has seen sporadic outbreaks of EHD since 2006, the most serious of which occurred in 2012 when an estimated 12,000 deer died.

No EHD deaths were reported in 2014 and 2015 with only minimal cases reported in 2016, according to the DNR.

Previous outbreaks in Michigan took place in 1955 and 1974. The disease can decimate the deer population in some areas, hurting Michigan's popular hunting season.

The DNR says there is no evidence EHD can be transmitted to humans.

EHD can cause a range of symptoms in deer, from almost none at all to very serious illness. Deer with a serious EHD infection lose their appetite and fear of humans as they grow progressively weaker and salivate excessively.

EHD causes a high fever in deer, so they are often found dead around bodies of water where they may be trying to lower their body temperature or rehydrate.

The DNR is not aware of any effective treatment or method to control EHD in a wild deer population. The disease has been present for decades in parts of the U.S.