Livestock also impacted by deer disease outbreak

Tracking outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease is important because wild deer aren’t the only ones affected. Other ruminants can contract EHD, including livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle (and captive deer)—and outbreaks among domesticated ruminants are increasing, according to Dr. Dennis Summers, chief of the Division of Animal Health at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Athens County was home to 687 farms in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

When livestock do contract EHD, they tend to show signs of infection such as a reluctance to eat, trouble walking and appearing feverish, Summers said. In cattle, those symptoms are similar to those of “foreign animal diseases.”


“We may not always go out and do some testing, but especially if it’s cattle, we definitely want to go out and try to get some samples,” Summers said. “Odds are 99.9% of the time, it’s just EHD, but we want to make sure we’re checking and ruling out animal diseases there with that.”

Veterinarians can alleviate symptoms of livestock with EHD by increasing fluid intake and providing pain medication, but “other than that, you just kind of have to let it ride its course, and then hope that they make it,” Summers said. 

EHD “potentially has ramifications for our food supply down the road, even though the food supply is still safe,” Summers said. From an economic perspective, he noted that a severe EHD outbreak may impact local economies, especially in rural counties such as Athens.

“Maybe not everybody particularly likes deer, but [EHD] has a much bigger picture and bigger impact on Ohio than just that little local population,” Summers said. 

Farmers whose livestock exhibit signs of EHD should notify the Ohio Department of Agriculture at (614) 728-6220, Summers said.

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