6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

No Worries About EHD

State game biologist are cautioning hunters not to confuse the recent outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) with the much more dangerous Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). 

The latter illness among whitetail deer is confined to a very small area in Hampshire County, where the DNR has established what it hopes will be a containment zone. EHD is far less of a worry for game management officials and for hunters.

"I don’t think hunters should be alarmed,” said Dick Hall with the DNR. "There is no relation of this to the Chronic Wasting Disease we have in Hampshire County. This virus is transmitted by a midge and is not transmitted by deer to deer contact."

The EHD virus is actually over for the year as hunters prepare for the bucks only gun season. The first killing frosts of the year kill off the biting midge that transmits the virus and any deer that were infected are either dead or have recovered.

"It’s sort of like when we get the flu," explained DNR Biologist Ray Knotts on West Virginia Outdoors. "You may have been infected, but once you’ve recovered, you go back to being normal and healthy. That’s the way EHD is with the deer."

The virus has been more prevalent in West Virginia in 2007 than in recent years due to a very dry summer. The exposure of mud flats during low water conditions allows for the midge that spreads the virus to thrive. West Virginia experienced large outbreaks in 2002 and in the late 1990’s. The virus is common in the south where dry summers are normal, but deer in those states generally have gained immunity and rarely die. West Virginia has seen a number of dead deer turn up in narrowly isolated spots, which has raised the alarm.

"Out of the 35 counties where we’ve tested for it, 31 tested positive,” Hall said. "Hunters need to remember it may be in one little, local watershed, but not the whole county. However, it can be significant in that watershed."  

Hall and other biologists stress there is no link between the virus and human infection, and any infection poses no risk to consuming meat of an animal that may carry the virus.  

Biologists also believe the impact on the entire deer herd will be minimal, although hunters who may hunt in an area that was directly impacted will probably see fewer deer during the season. 


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