University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

Disease killing deer will run its course in cooler fall weather: Delawareans asked to report dead deer for research purposes

 DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is reassuring Delaware residents and hunters that an insect-borne disease that has been killing white-tailed deer throughout North America does not affect humans, does not affect livestock and has minimal long-range ramifications for the viability of the state’s deer herd.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is transmitted by small biting flies commonly called midges or “no-see-ums.” EHD is the most significant disease afflicting white-tailed deer in North America but is also the best known and the most widely studied, having first been identified in 1955 with regular, almost annual outbreaks since. EHD outbreaks are most often associated with periods of drought. All known outbreaks have occurred in late summer and early fall, and are abruptly curtailed with the onset of frost, which kills the midges and suspends the hatch of their larvae.

EHD outbreaks are common in Delaware and other Mid-Atlantic states, with the last significant outbreak occurring in 2007 with more than 132 dead deer reported in Delaware.