SPRINGFIELD, IL – As of October 29, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has received reports of 432 suspected cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in white-tailed deer so far in 2018.
EHD appears to be at low to moderate levels in counties on or near the Illinois River, extending from Schuyler County to the southwest through Bureau County to the northeast. Peoria County has had the worst of it with 77 cases, followed closely by Fulton County with 71 cases.
Scattered suspected cases of EHD have also been reported across central and southern Illinois, with slightly higher levels reported in the southeastern Illinois counties of Lawrence (35 cases), Crawford (15), Jasper (13 cases), and Richland (10). In all, reports have come from 49 counties (see map attached).
EHD virus has been confirmed in tissue samples submitted for testing from Cass, Edwards, Macon, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, and Sangamon counties (serotyping is still pending).
The worst year for EHD in Illinois was 2012, when 2,968 cases were reported from 87 counties. In 2013, the IDNR received reports of 1,224 cases from 64 counties. EHD was virtually absent in 2014 and at low levels in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
The IDNR continues to ask landowners, hunters, and concerned citizens to be on the lookout for dead or dying deer, and to report suspected EHD cases to their local IDNR field office, or to the Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species Program (WDIS). IDNR is especially interested in sick or recently dead animals as staff may attempt to collect tissue samples in order to confirm the presence of the EHD virus.
Contact information for local IDNR biologists is available online at: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/professionals.cfm.
Contact the WDIS Program at 815-369-2414 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name and contact information, as well as the county, number of dead/sick deer, sex of the deer (if known), age (fawn or adult), and the specific location of the deer (distance/direction from the nearest town or intersection of two roads).
EHD is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that can cause localized die-offs when conditions are favorable for transmission. Infected animals develop a high fever, and dead animals often are found near water sources. Hunters may encounter deer killed by EHD when they go into the woods during the fall deer hunting seasons. EHD outbreaks typically end when freezing weather kills the insects that spread the virus. While often fatal to deer, EHD is not hazardous to humans or pets. EHD has been shown to affect livestock, so producers are encouraged to be vigilant.
The virus is transmitted between deer by a midge that hatches from muddy areas along lakes/ponds and streams/rivers. Although EHD is observed somewhere in Illinois every year, cases are more numerous during hot and dry summer weather conditions, presumably because receding water levels create these muddy areas, providing breeding sites for the midges. Limited water resources also congregate deer at remaining watering sites, creating conditions favorable for disease transmission.
A map showing the distribution of EHD-suspected deer reports as of October 29, 2018 https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/19325-EHD_Outbreak_in_Illinois_Claims_More_than_400_Deer_Release_with_Map.pdf.