Disease causing zombie-like effect on deer confirmed in trio of SW Ohio counties

Disease causing zombie-like effect on deer confirmed in trio of SW Ohio counties
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 3:49 PM EDT
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COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) have now been confirmed in several southwest Ohio Counties.

The disease, which causes deer to have zombie-like characteristics, has spread to Butler, Hamilton and Warren County, according to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources game warden.

A little more than a week ago, ODNR said the cases in the Tri-State were mainly impacting deer on Cincinnati’s west side.

Recently, Colerain Township police responded to Blue Rock Road for a report of a deer that was possibly hit by a vehicle, said Colerain Township Communications Specialist Helen Tracey-Noren.

The officers found the deer standing and staring off into the distance.

Police sirens and shouts from the officers did not faze the deer, Tracey-Noren explained.

The deer’s skin appeared discolored with “weird patches of fur all over its body,” she said.

Afterward, police contacted ODNR. The game warden explained the deer was suffering from EHD.

Cincinnati’s west side has been “hit hard lately with these ‘Zombie Deer,’” the game warden told police.

EHD, which does not impact humans, is caused by the bite of an infected midge (a type of fly), according to the ODNR. EHD does not pose a serious threat to livestock either, the ODNR’s website explains.

New cases of EHD are eliminated once there is a hard freeze, killing off the infected midges for the winter, the ODNR says.

Symptoms of EHD include:

  • Disorientation and show little or no fear of humans.
  • Animals may appear feverish
  • Pronounced swelling of head, neck, tongue, and eyelids
  • May have respiratory distress
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness, circling and other odd neurological signs

According to the ODNR, there is no treatment for EHD in wild populations.

In total, EHD has been confirmed in 13 Ohio counties.

Report suspected incidents of EHD to the ODNR to help them track the disease and its locations.

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