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Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak In South Jersey

October 22, 2010

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics (OFWHF) reports that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (EHD) has been confirmed from an adult doe which died in a farm pond in Ellinsboro Twp., Salem County, bordering Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Deer Management Zone (DMZ) 63 on September 18, 2010. Between September 18, 2010 and October 15, 2010 nearly half (23) of the estimated 50 deer on the 160 acres of upland on the farm in question have died.

The virus is transmitted from infected deer via biting midge flies Culiocoides sonorensis). The flies, which carry an RNA virus, are noticeable at the farm. The disease is relatively benign in livestock and usually goes unnoticed, and it is not transmissible to humans. Cold weather will terminate midge activity and the spread of EHD.

Additional dead deer have been reported from the southern shore of Salem Cove, Supawna Meadows NWR, off Industrial Park Rd. and in Pennsville. An additional 20 deer were found dead at Fort Mott for a total of 78 dead deer in DMZ 63 between September 18, 2010 and October 15, 2010. A buck with a blue tongue, suggestive of EHD, was found dead on October 16, 2010 at a farm in Alloway Twp. in DMZ 29. Another buck was reported floating in a pond in Pittsgrove Twp. on September 27, 2010.

This results in a total of 80 deer, which have apparently died of EHD outbreak in Salem County from mid-September to mid-October, 2010. Another suspect case involved a buck found dead in a waterbody in E. Greenwich Twp., Gloucester County, on September 20, 2010. A suspect EHD case in Hampton at the Clinton WMA in Hunterdon County on September 23, 2010 was not found to have the EHD virus, and no other suspect cases have been reported in northern counties.

In 2007, the first outbreak of EHD Type 2 occurred in counties from Salem to Morris. This strain typically occurs every year in the southern U.S. The current outbreak of Type 2 EHD in New Jersey raises concern that it may persist and reoccur annually as it does in the southern U.S.

The locations and seasons of EHD outbreaks are more dependent on the density and distribution of the midges than the density of the deer herd. Deer with the disease go to water to cool the fever caused by the virus, which attacks the lining of the blood vessels causing hemorrhage in the whites of the eyes, nostrils and blue color to the tongue, which may be ulcerated.

Deer with EHD in the fall are not usually emaciated. Sick deer from August through October which are unable to stand and are drooling or emitting foam from the mouth and nose could be suffering from EHD. Similarly those found dead in the water or near the water with no apparent wounds should be considered suspect EHD cases and the OFWHF should be notified immediately by calling 908-735-6398.

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Last Updated: October 22, 2010