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Are EHD-Infected Deer Safe to Eat?

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October 22, 2012

Are EHD-Infected Deer Safe to Eat?

By David Draper

Depending on where you live, you may have been hearing an awful lot about Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, as it’s more commonly known. The disease, which is often fatal to deer, was first recognized in 1950s, but it has made headlines this fall across the drought-stricken regions of the U.S. where tens of thousands of deer have been found dead or dying of EHD.

Many states have either reduced the number of deer tags available or, as in my home state of Nebraska, recommended wildlife officials do so. Some hunters in EHD hot zones have expressed concern about eating meat from deer that may be infected with the horrific disease. So, is it safe?

According to wildlife officials, yes.

By all accounts, the effects of EHD are exclusive to ruminants. Humans are not affected by either handling or eating EHD-infected deer meat, or even being bitten by the tiny midges or no-see-ums that transmit the virus. An obvious rule to follow is this: If the meat looks and smells fine, it probably is. If the meat, or the deer, shows any signs of sickness, ulcers, abscess, or other abnormalities, contact your local wildlife officials as soon as possible. If you’re still concerned, here are a few symptoms to look for when you’re in the woods this fall:

1. Deer appear thin, weak, and sickly. They might be unafraid of humans.

2. Excessive salivation or foam around the mouth and nose.

3. Swollen areas around the head and neck.

4. Erosions and ulcers on the tongue or around the mouth.

5. Detached walls of the hoof.

A good hard frost will usually kill the midge populations, putting a halt to the spread of the disease, and deer that succumb to EHD usually do so quickly (within 1-3 days). Any deer still alive and appearing healthy after the first frost date are probably disease-free. Also note, many deer contract a hemorrhagic disease and survive, showing no symptoms or ill-effects after recovery.

Comments (11)

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from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Good information to know. The area I deer hunt is feeling the effects of EHD this year.

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from Corey West wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

David,

what sort of numbers are you seeing or hearing affected? I think the G&P is way off, my camera pictures are down at least 50% but I would say closer to 75%. I normally have 10 -15 bucks on camera of 130-160". This year I have zero that big and only 7-10 bucks period. I would love for this to wake up the Game and Parks to implementing an 8 point buck restriction like Missouri does. If the matures bucks are hit as hard as I am seeing we are 3-5 years out from getting the mature bucks back, and that is only if we as a state stop killing the 1 1/2 to 3 year olds that are left after the EHD out break and over hunting. We also have to get rifle season moved out of the rut. Also do you happen to know what the current population is of Nebraska's herd?

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from Laura Wickizer wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I don't understand the map, is this map of Oklahoma?

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from Aemal Khattak wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Laura, the map shows different counties in Nebraska.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Travis Highpockets wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

David:

It's my understanding that bucks (especially larger antlered bucks) are more vulnerable to the Blue Tongue outbreaks. The disease vector (Midge) have direct access to the bloodstream via antlers whilst they're in velvet.

That's why you're not seeing the big bucks. I'm from Northwest Missouri. We're experiencing similar losses here.

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from Andy Kirkland wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I have a decent antlered 5 point on my game camera that has this. I definitely wouldn't even debate eating the deer, but would love to put him out of his misery. It's sad; this guy looks so sickly, but he's been keeping on. He's been on my cameras (mostly at night) for about 2 weeks.....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jgtalerico wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Does EHD affect just "deer," or the whole deer family? Such as caribou, elk and moose.

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from jgtalerico wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

effect*

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from Double D wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Corey,
I agree with you that NGPC numbers are off, probably substantially. Remember, these are just reported deaths, so how many deer have died that weren't reported? I've heard multipliers from 2X to 5X, so who knows. I do know every hunter I talk to, without exception, across the state has expressed concern about the deer herd. Of course, it should be noted we've been experiencing exploding deer numbers for the past few years too, so who knows how bad this will actually knock back the population. It will be interesting to see how many deer are killed during the rifle season next month. I don't think we'll know the true effects of EHD until then.

As for the point restriction, I won't go there. With a rifle season smack dab in the middle of the rut, I'd say Nebraska manages its deer herd for opportunity, not trophy. And truthfully, I'm fine with that.

D

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from JRE19 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

This is some good information, here in Michigan we are getting hit rather hard with EHD. Mostly in the lower part of the lower penninsula but many counties have saw this disease. Around Ionia county there is around 1,500deer that have been found and reported. That is only the number that has been reported this number is actually much higher. Around our area it is not unusal to see 30-40 deer a night in cut corn fields. I have only saw 5 deer in 2 months.

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from Treesnake wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Great post. I just unknowingly harvested a survivor. Now to butcher.

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from Aemal Khattak wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Laura, the map shows different counties in Nebraska.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andy Kirkland wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I have a decent antlered 5 point on my game camera that has this. I definitely wouldn't even debate eating the deer, but would love to put him out of his misery. It's sad; this guy looks so sickly, but he's been keeping on. He's been on my cameras (mostly at night) for about 2 weeks.....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Corey,
I agree with you that NGPC numbers are off, probably substantially. Remember, these are just reported deaths, so how many deer have died that weren't reported? I've heard multipliers from 2X to 5X, so who knows. I do know every hunter I talk to, without exception, across the state has expressed concern about the deer herd. Of course, it should be noted we've been experiencing exploding deer numbers for the past few years too, so who knows how bad this will actually knock back the population. It will be interesting to see how many deer are killed during the rifle season next month. I don't think we'll know the true effects of EHD until then.

As for the point restriction, I won't go there. With a rifle season smack dab in the middle of the rut, I'd say Nebraska manages its deer herd for opportunity, not trophy. And truthfully, I'm fine with that.

D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JRE19 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

This is some good information, here in Michigan we are getting hit rather hard with EHD. Mostly in the lower part of the lower penninsula but many counties have saw this disease. Around Ionia county there is around 1,500deer that have been found and reported. That is only the number that has been reported this number is actually much higher. Around our area it is not unusal to see 30-40 deer a night in cut corn fields. I have only saw 5 deer in 2 months.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Good information to know. The area I deer hunt is feeling the effects of EHD this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Corey West wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

David,

what sort of numbers are you seeing or hearing affected? I think the G&P is way off, my camera pictures are down at least 50% but I would say closer to 75%. I normally have 10 -15 bucks on camera of 130-160". This year I have zero that big and only 7-10 bucks period. I would love for this to wake up the Game and Parks to implementing an 8 point buck restriction like Missouri does. If the matures bucks are hit as hard as I am seeing we are 3-5 years out from getting the mature bucks back, and that is only if we as a state stop killing the 1 1/2 to 3 year olds that are left after the EHD out break and over hunting. We also have to get rifle season moved out of the rut. Also do you happen to know what the current population is of Nebraska's herd?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Laura Wickizer wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I don't understand the map, is this map of Oklahoma?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Travis Highpockets wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

David:

It's my understanding that bucks (especially larger antlered bucks) are more vulnerable to the Blue Tongue outbreaks. The disease vector (Midge) have direct access to the bloodstream via antlers whilst they're in velvet.

That's why you're not seeing the big bucks. I'm from Northwest Missouri. We're experiencing similar losses here.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jgtalerico wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Does EHD affect just "deer," or the whole deer family? Such as caribou, elk and moose.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jgtalerico wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

effect*

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treesnake wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Great post. I just unknowingly harvested a survivor. Now to butcher.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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