Two deer have died from a disease not seen in southwestern Pennsylvania since 2007.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission on Monday confirmed epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) to be the cause of death for two deer in Beaver County. EHD is a disease contracted by deer through the bites of very small midges, and causes massive hemorrhaging.
Game Commission spokesperson Jerry Feaser says this disease usually results in death for the deer.
“Pennsylvania deer are not accustomed to this virus being here, they have not built up an immunity, so it’s pretty much 100 percent fatal when contracted here in Pennsylvania,” Feaser said.
Although EHD only affects deer, Feaser still cautions against consuming EHD-infected venison.
“There’s no known human implications if someone were to accidentally consume meat from a diseased animal as long as the meat’s been properly cooked,” said Feaser. “But we encourage people that if the animal does not appear healthy, do not consume that meat.”
Even though EHD is one of the most common diseases among white-tailed deer in the United States, five years have lapsed since the last large outbreak.
But EHD may not present much of a threat to the deer population of Pennsylvania for much longer, as Feaser says any traces of EHD will be wiped out once the first frost hits.
“It’ll kill the insects, and any deer that have been exposed to the virus will die this year, so it won’t have that repository for next year,” Feaser said.
In addition to samples collected from Beaver and Cambria Counties, Game Commission biologists recently submitted for testing two more samples from dead deer found in Murrysville and Jeanette, Westmoreland County.