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Fatal midge-borne deer virus confirmed in a second Minnesota county

It's suspected to be behind several more deer deaths.
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Minnesota DNR officials have confirmed the midge-borne deer virus EHD has spread to a second county in the state.

The DNR announced Monday that a wild deer died near Caledonia in Houston County, southeastern Minnesota, from epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

What's more, EHD is suspected as being behind the death of "other nearby deer" in the county, though this is yet to be confirmed.

It had previously been confirmed that two farmed deer in Houston County died from EHD near Rushford on Sept. 5.

And it also comes after four wild deer were found to have died from EHD in the St. Stephens area of Stearns County in central Minnesota earlier this month, with more deer nearby suspected to have died from the virus.

EHD is naturally occurring and seasonal, so the DNR expects this outbreak to be shortened because the soon-to-appear frost should kill the virus and the midges carrying it.

"The DNR will continue to monitor the situation in these counties, sampling suspect deer as opportunities arise," said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program group leader.

"Sampling of multiple deer deaths may become necessary if the disease appears to be in more areas."

People who find multiple dead deer should report them to the nearest DNR area wildlife office, with EHD having the potential to "dramatically reduce a local deer population," albeit only in the short-term, having less of an impact on overall populations.

"EHD has circulated in the southern United States for decades and outbreaks in deer there are typically mild," Carstensen said. "Movement of the EHD virus to the northern United States, where there is little history of previous exposure, can result in severe outbreaks with high localized mortality."

The disease is not a threat to humans or animals outside the deer family, but humans shouldn't consume meat from any deer that appears sick.

The first known instance of EHD-infected deer in Minnesota occurred in October 2018, when BAH testing confirmed it in six captive deer in Goodhue County.

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