The Minnesota Board of Animal Health in a news release confirmed the first cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Minnesota deer. Six of seven animals in a small herd of captive white-tailed deer in Goodhue County died of the disease earlier this month.

The remaining buck appears healthy at this time and is showing no clinical signs associated with this disease. This is the first detection of this disease in a Minnesota deer, yet it is widespread across North America. It has previously been detected in two Minnesota cattle in Brown County (2012) and Murray County (2013).

The virus is transmitted between deer by biting midges, or gnats, which are most active in the fall before they are killed by the first frost of the season.

The deer deaths surprised the owner as they were quick and suspicious earlier this month. So much so that it alarmed the owner, who worked with their veterinarian to submit tissues from the carcasses to the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to determine the cause of death.

EHD was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

EHD affects members of the deer family, and there are no known health risks to people.

Many different deer species may be infected with EHD, and white-tailed deer are highly susceptible and experience high rates of mortality.

Most infected animals die within 36 hours of clinical signs, which can include: fever, anorexia, lethargy, stiffness, respiratory distress, oral ulcers, and severe swelling of the head and neck.