Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a disease spread by gnats, is responsible for the deaths of as many as 30 deer discovered in a small area of Big Game Management Unit 8 east of Moscow.
Findings from Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University where a dead deer was taken for analysis, confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic disease - known as EHD - was responsible.
However, authorities at Idaho Department of Fish and Game report the public shouldn't worry because there is no danger of the disease being spread to humans, because it is not infectious for humans. Currently, the disease also appears to be localized, but additional reports of dead deer are expected as hunting seasons begin.
EHD is a viral disease that normally attacks only deer, but it can occur with another disease known as Blue Tongue that infects domestic cattle and sheep. EHD has caused disease in cattle in the eastern United States but not in Idaho. Similar to the influenza virus in humans, it is thought that EHD and Blue Tongue are common in the wild, but at times local conditions can cause the diseases to spread more widely.
Authorities say that with cooler weather predicted, it is likely that the gnats will be adversely affected, and the potential for disease spread will slow. Fish and Game will continue to monitor the status of the outbreak but awaits a hard frost that will halt the spread entirely for this year.
However, hunters and landowners are encouraged to notify Fish and Game at 208-799-5010 if they encounter sick, dead or dying deer. These reports will help determine the extent of the affected region.
The last significant EHD outbreak occurred in 2003, mainly in the lower elevations along the Clearwater River drainage from Harpster downstream to Kamiah, with patchy outbreaks occurring in Kendrick, Peck, Orofino and Grangeville, and along the Salmon River near White Bird and Riggins.