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Forum Communications, Published September 04 2012

Virus blamed for deer deaths

MITCHELL, S.D. - Whitetail deer are being found dead across South Dakota, and officials believe a virus is to blame.

“We are getting reports of dead deer almost daily from across the state,” said Andy Lindbloom, senior big game biologist for the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

In Hutchinson County, the area with the worst of the problem in the eastern half of the state, about 50 dead deer have been found. It’s believed the deer succumbed to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, though only one instance of the disease has been confirmed. The test for EHD needs to be administered within 24 hours of the death of the animal.

“It’s possible that some of those 50 died of other causes as well, but it looks like EHD. We just won’t know for sure,” said Ron Schauer, GF&P regional wildlife specialist.

EHD is a non-contagious, insect-borne viral disease that cannot be spread to humans.

The virus is transmitted by midges such as flies or gnats and primarily infects sheep but can also infect goats, cattle, antelope and whitetail deer and is more severe during times of hot temperatures and drought.