Oct 15, 2013
A bone dry weather summer yielded dozens of suspected cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) across Iowa. Though much lower than reports in 2012, the sight of dead deer with no apparent cause of death is a concern to landowners, hunters and others as they headed outdoors this late summer and, now, fall. By late September, about 80 reports of dead deer…near water sources in many cases…had been relayed to Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists. Though any cases would be a concern, that running total compared with more than 750 that had been fielded at the same time a year ago. Eventually, that number grew to about 3000 as more hunters headed into the woods during the later deer seasons.
This year, several deer had just died, allowing tissue samples to be tested for EHD. The disease is caused by a bite from a tiny midge, or flying insect. Warm dry weather favors a buildup in the midge population; increasing the prospect of an outbreak. Once infected, the virus multiplies very quickly within a deer; causing high fever, breakdown of cell walls and dehydration. Reports in 2013, were more often farther north than a year ago; about 20 near the Linn- Johnson County line in east central Iowa, and a couple more in northeastern Iowa’s Clayton County. A year ago, in the grip of a statewide drought, the number eventually grew to about 3000…though with most reported out of southern Iowa.
Though late September rains might have lessened the risk, wildlife officials caution that hunters and others that they may see more deer, as they get outdoors later this year. Dead and sick animals will often be found near water…perhaps stretching back to the late summer dry spell.