Rare ‘Zombie’ Like Virus Found in New York Deer For 1st Time
A rare deadly deer disease was confirmed in New York State.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that three deer tested positive for a rare virus.
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Three Deer Found On Long Island, New York Found With Rare Virus
The three deer were all found in Southampton, Suffolk County. All tested positive for bluetongue (BT). This marks the first time the bluetongue virus was detected in New York deer, officials say. It was also detected in several other mid-Atlantic coast states this year.
Bluetongue virus is closely related to the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) virus and is transmitted in the same way.
"EHD virus and BT virus are often fatal to deer. They are transmitted by biting midges, small bugs often called "no-see-ums." EHD and BT outbreaks are most common in late summer and early fall when midges are abundant. Diseases caused by the viruses are usually not spread directly from deer to deer, and humans cannot be infected by deer or bites from midges," the DEC states.
Symptoms in deer include fever, difficulty breathing, dehydration, swelling of the head neck and tongue, attraction to water and rapid death.
Infected deer will often seek out water sources and many pass away in or near a water source.
Once clinical signs of EHD or BT infection are apparent, deer usually die within 36 hours, officials say.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Confirmed in Dutchess County, Rensselaer County, Suffolk County
The DEC also reported two white-tailed deer in the town of Schodack, Rensselaer County, found dead in late August, and one deer in Southampton, Suffolk County, confirmed positive for EHD.
Two deer found dead in the town of Dover Plains, Dutchess County, also died from EHD in mid-August, officials say.
"There is no treatment or means to prevent EHD or BT in free-ranging deer. The dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals. Both EHD and BT can infect cattle and sheep; cattle seldom exhibit signs of disease, but sheep can suffer severe disease and death from BT infection," the DEC states.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Identified in Dutchess, Ulster, Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties
The disease is called by some a "zombie" deer disease because symptoms in deer may include difficulty standing, drooling, and emitting foam from the mouth or nose.
In August 2021, the DEC confirmed that two white-tailed deer in the town of Esopus died after contracting Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).
The DEC is currently investigating reports of several other dead deer in Dutchess, Ulster and Westchester counties. From early September to late October 2020, a large EHD outbreak occurred in the lower Hudson Valley, centered in Putnam and Orange counties, with an estimated 1,500 deer mortalities, officials say.
Several white-tailed deer in the towns of Nelsonville and Cold Spring in Putnam County and near Goshen in Orange County died after contracting EHD in 2020.
DEC wildlife biologists told Husdon Valley Post in September 2020 211 deer from Putnam County, southwestern Dutchess County and northwestern Westchester County as well as another 237 from Orange County, southern Ulster County and northern Rockland County died from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
The virus has also been identified in Dutchess, Ulster, Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties.