IDNR urges Illinoisans to be on lookout for deadly deer disease - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IDNR urges Illinoisans to be on lookout for deadly deer disease

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking Illinoisans to be on the lookout for signs of a disease fatal to deer.

According to IDNR, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a virus that causes high fevers and kills deer hours of days after it's contracted. Small insects called midges carry the disease and transfer it to deer by biting. Midges live and breed near water sources such as ponds, lakes, or creeks. Deer often contract the disease while drinking and die nearby.

The disease has no known effect to humans or domestic animals but can kill off localized deer populations in high numbers, according to wildlife ecologist Eric Schauber with Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"It's a big deal because we get these occasional periods and places where we can get these occasional periods and places where you can get fairly heavy mortality and it can kill off a substantial fraction of the population," Schauber said.

Most cases are reported during drought years, Schauber said. He said there are several cases in the Southern region each year but most cases are reported in the central part of the state.

"In general, in terms of the Southern part of the state it doesn't seem to have a big impact on the population as it potentially could in the central part of the state where the habitat is mostly along waterways," Schauber said.

Schauber said deer that have contracted the virus often exhibit odd behavior such as walking aimlessly, having no fear of people, panting or sticking its tongue out, and having a swollen face or body.

The last major outbreak of EHD in Ill. was in 2012, according to IDNR. 51 counties had reports of deer being killed because of the virus.

The IDNR is asking anyone who thinks they may have spotted a deer infected with EHD to contact their local IDNR biologist or the Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species Program.

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