A new disease normally found in deer in the southern U.S. has now been found in southern Wisconsin.
State wildlife officials confirmed Thursday that dead deer found in Dane, Sauk and Waukesha counties have tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. The disease had already been confirmed in dead deer in Columbia and Rock counties.
“Our neighbor states have been seeing EHD outbreaks for the last several weeks, and now it has made its way into southern Wisconsin,” said DNR southern Wisconsin wildlife supervisor Eric Lobner. “It is a fairly common disease carried by midges, commonly referred to as no see ums, which are not a threat to humans, so there is no cause for alarm."
EHD can often kill an infected deer within seven days. The last time the disease was found in Wisconsin was in 2002, when 14 deer from Iowa County died from the virus.
EHD is common across the southern U.S., but rarely makes an appearance this far north. But this year, outbreaks of EHD have been reported in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. The disease is typically short-lived, since flies that transmit the disease die with the first hard frost.
The Department of Natural Resources is asking people who see deer that exhibit signs like excessive salivating. acting weak or lying down in water to cool down or drink to report their observations to the agency.
Wildlife officials say there is no risk to people or pets from deer that have died of EHD and that the venison is safe to eat. Deer carcasses can be left on the landscape to decompose. The DNR will not be collecting or removing deer that have died as a result of this outbreak.