Deer disease now being found in some N.D. cattle

Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A fatal disease that has struck North Dakota’s deer population this year is now being found in cattle.

Cattle cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease – commonly known as EHD – have been reported in several counties, according to State Veterinarian Susan Keller. Ranchers, particularly in southern and southwestern North Dakota, should be looking for symptoms in their herds, including excessive salivation, swollen tongues, mouth ulcers, fever, reproductive problems and lameness, she said.

“It is important for producers to work with their veterinarians to determine the cause of illness or death,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

The state Game and Fish Department last month suspended further sales of deer hunting licenses because of an outbreak of EHD in deer. Deer south and west of the Missouri River have been affected, according to agency Wildlife Veterinarian Dan Grove.

“Areas along the Cannonball and Heart Rivers in Sioux and Grant counties seem to be most impacted,” he said.

White-tailed deer that are infected by EHD almost always die, but Keller said infected cattle usually recover. The disease poses no threat to people.

EHD primarily attacks wild animals such as deer, bighorn sheep and antelope, but it also can infect domestic animals including cattle, sheep and goats. It is spread by midges – tiny biting flies – and is not spread from animal to animal. The first hard freeze of the season usually kills the midges and stems the spread of the EHD virus.

The disease also has been found in deer in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming this year, according to Grove. It’s not the first outbreak in North Dakota. In 2011, deer deaths from the disease occurred well into October and prompted Game and Fish to suspend license sales and offer refunds to the holders of 13,000 licenses in several southwestern hunting units. The suspension of deer hunting license sales this fall affected 1,000 doe licenses.