Are Deadly Deer Diseases Declining in Illinois?

By Bow StaffMarch 1, 20181 Comment

A report from The Illinois News Network shows some good news for whitetail deer when it comes to deadly deer diseases… 

New reports show the number of cases of a deadly deer disease have declined since 2012, when almost 3,000 deer in Illinois were infected by epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease causes a high fever and internal bleeding in deer.

Some deer die within 48 hours. Others develop a resistance to it, said Doug Dufford, Wildlife Disease and Invasive Wildlife Program manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“The deer that survive the infection have resistance built up within them, and so the population has an amount of resistance that keeps it going for a number of years,” Dufford said.

Despite the decline, is another outbreak likely in the days ahead?

This is why Illinois hasn’t had another major outbreak of the disease, but that doesn’t mean that another outbreak couldn’t occur, he added.

“Unfortunately, the immunity only lasts as long as the animals are exposed to the virus,” Dufford said. “Eventually the new generations coming on do not become exposed, so that immunity is lost.”

Dufford said the weather plays a role in how high the infection rate will be this year.

“EHD tends to be worse in years where there are warm temperatures with not a lot of precipitation,” he said.

Dufford said certain counties such as Pike, Adams and Brown see higher rates of EHD than other counties.

“It has to do with population density,” Dufford said. “Deer population numbers in many of those counties are some of the highest in the state.”

Last year, 32 counties reported 169 deer with the disease. This is down from 2,968 deer infected in 87 counties in 2012.

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