Game Commission Announces EHD Confirmed in Cambria County EHD confirmed in farmed deer in Franklin County

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Walter
 Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, today
 announced that test results of dead deer from the southwestern part of the
 state have confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has been
 found in Cambria County.
     Results released today involved a juvenile male that was found dead in
 Westmont, Cambria County. However, there have been no other reports of sick
 or dead deer in Cambria County. Other counties in which EHD has been
 confirmed in wild, free-ranging deer are Allegheny, Beaver, Greene,
 Washington and Westmoreland counties. The Game Commission has received
 reports of EHD affected deer in other counties as well, but still is
 awaiting laboratory results.
     On Oct. 11, the state Agriculture Department announced that it had
 confirmed EHD in farmed deer in Franklin County. EHD has been confirmed in
 cattle in Franklin, Somerset and Washington counties, but no mortalities
 were reported in these cases. As of today, there have been no reports of
 EHD in wild, free-roaming deer in Franklin or Somerset counties.
     "Our Wildlife Conservation Officers, Land Managers and other field
 staff have been on the look out for evidence of EHD in wild deer," said Rob
 Criswell, Game Commission Southcentral Region director. "We urge anyone
 finding dead deer or sick deer to contact our office with specific
     "Fortunately, the weather has begun to cool, and we hopefully will soon
 have our first good frost, which is expected to kill the insects that are
 spreading the EHD virus. Also, as we have not found EHD in the wild,
 free-roaming deer in Franklin County, we do not expect that hunters will
 notice any impact on local deer densities."
     The Southcentral Region Office phone number is 814-643-1831, and serves
 the following counties: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Franklin,
 Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry and Snyder.
     Residents in other counties are encouraged to call their respective
 regions to report dead or sick deer. Contact information is available on
 page 3 of the 2007-08 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping
 Regulations, which is presented to each license buyer and the agency's
 website ( under the "Contact Us" section at the
 bottom of the homepage.
     To provide the public with more information about EHD, the agency has
 posted an "EHD Update" page on its website (
 The website also chronicles the agency's news releases issued about this
 outbreak since Aug. 27.
     EHD is a common but sporadic disease in white-tailed deer populations
 of the United States, and is contracted by the bite of insects called
 "biting midges." In more northern states, such as Pennsylvania, EHD occurs
 less often and the deer are less able to mount an effective immune
 response. The virus usually kills the naive animal within five to 10 days.
 It is not spread from deer to deer by contact. While EHD is not infectious
 to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD are usually not suitable
 for consumption because of the rapid deterioration of the meat and
 secondary bacterial infection.
     "This outbreak of EHD is more significant than the one in 2002 and has
 impacted more deer in a larger area," Dr. Cottrell said. "The fact that we
 found EHD in early August means that the disease has had the opportunity to
 be active longer this time prior to the first good frost, which is what is
 needed to kill the insects responsible for spreading the virus.
     "Reports of dead or dying deer are important to us. Though an actual
 body count of afflicted deer is almost impossible to obtain, because of the
 rapid decomposition and the area where the outbreak is occurring is large,
 we still value these reports. Also, tissue samples must be extracted within
 24 hours of death to be suitable for conducting tests. That is why it is so
 important that we hear from residents as soon as possible after they find a
 suspect deer."
     Dr. Cottrell reminded hunters that EHD cannot be contracted by humans
 and it is rare for this virus to cause clinical signs in traditional
 livestock, such as cattle, sheep or goats. However, as has been the case
 occasionally in the past, there is evidence of an EHD outbreak in domestic
 cattle, both dairy and beef, in southwestern Ohio, while sheep on one of
 the two farms affected do not seem to be ill. However, farmed deer and elk
 are susceptible. Anyone who suspects EHD in their livestock should contact
 their private veterinary practitioner.
     "While there is no evidence that humans are at risk from EHD, other
 diseases may be transmitted by careless hygiene when processing deer. As a
 routine precaution, all hunters are encouraged to wear rubber or latex
 gloves when handling or field-dressing any animal, and wash their hands and
 tools thoroughly after field dressing," Dr. Cottrell said. "As with any
 wild game, meat should always be thoroughly cooked."
     Dr. Cottrell stressed that even though some EHD symptoms are similar to
 those of chronic wasting disease (CWD) -- such as excessive drooling,
 weakness and a loss of fear of humans -- there is no relationship between
 EHD and CWD.
     "However, because these diseases coexist, as many of the deer as
 possible that are submitted for EHD testing also are being tested for CWD,"
 Dr. Cottrell said. "It also is worth noting that like CWD, EHD is one of
 those diseases whose mortality rate can be amplified by anything that
 serves to congregate deer, such as supplemental feeding, and placement of
 salt or mineral blocks. While the disease is not spread through deer to
 deer contact, congregating animals through feeding does make transmission
 easier by allowing midges that carry the virus greater access to a larger
 number of animals in a more confined area. Therefore, such feeding
 activities should be discontinued immediately.
     "The good news from this situation is that the public is reporting
 these sightings to the Game Commission. Should the state's deer herd be
 infected with other serious diseases, the Game Commission will need to rely
 on the continued vigilance of the public so that we can respond in a timely
     EHD was first confirmed in Pennsylvania in 2002, when an outbreak
 caused the death of 70 deer in Greene and Washington counties. That same
 year, EHD was confirmed in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
     In 1996, EHD was suspected to be the cause of death in nearly 25 deer
 in Adams County, but test results in that case were inconclusive.
     This year, numerous other states also are finding EHD-related
 mortality, including: Alabama; Colorado; Georgia; Tennessee; Kansas;
 Kentucky; Illinois; Indiana; Maryland; Mississippi; Missouri; New Jersey;
 North Carolina; South Carolina; Texas; Virginia; Ohio; Pennsylvania; and
 West Virginia.
     For Information Contact:
     Jerry Feaser

SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission

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