Fatal disease showing up in deer in South Dakota

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PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has documented deer mortalities this year due to hemorrhagic disease, also known as epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or blue tongue. To date, EHD has been confirmed by laboratory analysis in deer from Beadle, Harding, Pennington, and Perkins counties. Additional reports of dead deer are coming in from other areas as well, many of which likely succumbed to EHD.

The virus is spread by a biting midge and causes extensive internal hemorrhaging in infected animals. Many deer exhibit no clinical signs and appear perfectly healthy, while others may have symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, and swelling of the tongue. With highly lethal strains of the virus, deer can be dead within 1-3 days.

Affected deer are often found near low lying areas or water, likely due to the deer attempting to combat the high fever.