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First Frost Halts Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak In Deer - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

First Frost Halts Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak In Deer

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FRANKFORT, Ky (LEX 18) The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife said that a recent cold snap in Kentucky effectively ended the Commonwealth's outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in white-tailed deer.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is a viral disease transmitted to deer by biting flies or midges. It does not affect people or pets, and outbreaks cease at the first frost, which kills the bugs.

The department said they started receiving reports of sick or dead deer in some east Kentucky counties in July. August brought confirmation that a common strain of the EHD virus was to blame. 

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife fielded 1,822 individual reports and documented 4,586 suspected EHD cases through phone calls and an online reporting system.

“Kentucky Fish and Wildlife would like to thank the public for its assistance,” said Dr. Iga Stasiak, state wildlife veterinarian with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The incredible response we received was invaluable in helping us gauge the extent and intensity of this year’s severe outbreak. The public’s feedback through those outlets helped biologists monitor the situation in real-time and generate incredibly helpful maps.”

The epicenter of the outbreak in Kentucky appeared to be in Floyd and Pike counties.

“Department biologists will be looking closely at harvest data and monitoring the deer herd ahead of next year’s hunting season,” Stasiak said. “We will also be monitoring deer at several check stations throughout the hunting season to identify deer that may have been exposed to the disease and assess the degree of immunity in the herd.”

Although EHD is not transmissible to people, the department reminds hunters to avoid eating animals that appear to be sick and asks that sick deer be reported to the department either by calling 1-800-858-1549 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Eastern) weekdays or contacting their local private lands or public lands biologist, depending on where the animal was observed.

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