Deer Disease Fueled by Drought in Nebraska Cattle

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

State agriculture officials say a disease fueled by the Midwest drought that's often fatal to deer is showing up in cattle in Nebraska.

State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes has confirmed nine cases. The disease, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, is spread by biting gnats and leads to internal bleeding. More than 700 deer are known to have been killed so far this summer in Illinois.

Hughes says EHD is transmitted from deer to cattle by the biting gnats. Symptoms in cattle include fever, swollen eyes, ulcers on the mouth, lameness and labored breathing.

It has officials concerned but not worried.

"This is something that we have experienced in the past, we just haven't seen as many cases in the past, so we wanted to alert our producers as to what was going on and the symptoms they should be expecting," Christin Kamm with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture said.

Experts say it is not contagious so it will not spread among the herd.

"There actually is no treatment for EHD. I do want people to realize this disease is rarely fatal in our cattle. I think is is important for folks to know that this disease does resemble other potentially contagious diseases," Kamm said.

The Department of Ag doesn't expect beef priced to go up because of the disease and say the meat is fine to eat even if it the cattle are infected.

Hughes says the cases aren't confined to a particular area. Producers are urged to contact their veterinarian if the suspect the disease.

EHD outbreaks typically end with the first frost that's cold enough to kill insects.

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