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Genesee County deer tests positive for fatal viral disease

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One deer in Genesee County has tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory say the free-ranging white-tailed deer died from the disease, which can be found in wild ruminants such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.

EHD is transmitted among the animals by a midge, a type of biting fly. The disease does not always cause infection or death; indeed, signs of illness can range from zero symptoms to severe internal bleeding and fluid accumulation.

There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus.

More from the MDHHS:

Illness can come on suddenly and severely, but also can linger for weeks or months in a low-grade state. In severe forms of the disease, deer lose their appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, salivate excessively and finally become unconscious. Due to a high fever and dehydration, infected deer often seek water to lower their body temperature and to rehydrate, and then are found sick or dead along or in bodies of water.

Cases of EHD are infrequent in Michigan. The last major outbreak was in 2012, when over 12,000 deer were lost to the disease.
The MDHHS is asking hunters to keep an eye out for dead deer, especially if they are near water, and report it with the sick or dead bird and mammal reporting form.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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