HARRISBURG - Dr. Walter Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, Monday announced that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has been confirmed as the cause of death for a deer in Montgomery County.
On Sept. 11, the agency received the carcass of a female deer that had died on the grounds of the Graterford State Correctional Institute, Skippack Township. The deer was one of 19 found to date by the prison's mounted patrol. The deer carcasses were in various stages of decay, and the majority of the deer were found near water.
Tissue samples were submitted to and tested by the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia, which has confirmed the deer mortality was due to a strain of the EHD virus.
"There are no management actions or practices to prevent or limit mortality caused by EHD," Dr. Cottrell said. "Fortunately, EHD should be curtailed with the first hard frost, which will kill the midges that are spreading the disease. EHD is a seasonal disease and the affected local deer herd can rebound quickly."
EHD is one of the most common diseases among white-tailed deer in the United States, and is contracted by the bite of insects called "midges" or "no-see-ums." The virus of EHD usually kills the animal within five to 10 days, and is not spread directly from deer to deer. While EHD is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD may not be suitable for consumption.
Game Commission Southeast Region Director Doug Killough is urging residents to report sightings of sickly-looking deer, particularly those found near water, by calling the Region Office at 610-926-3136. The Southeast Region serves Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.
The Game Commission will continue to gather samples from other dead deer being found in Pennsylvania outside of municipalities where it already has been confirmed. Samples must be collected within 24 hours of the animal's death to be viable. Once the results are available, which normally takes around two weeks, the Game Commission will release the findings to the public.
In addition to Montgomery County, EHD already has been confirmed this year in Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland counties, and is suspected in Cambria and Crawford counties. SCWDS has confirmed deer mortalities from four different strains of the EHD virus in 15 states this year.
Residents in other counties are encouraged to contact their respective Game Commission Region Offices. For contact information, go to the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us
) and click on "About Us" and "Regional Information."
Information on EHD can be found on the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us
) by clicking on the "EHD Info" icon in the center of the homepage.