Midge-Borne Virus Cause Of Death In Wild Deer In Stearns County


Archery season opens Saturday here in Minnesota.  Hunters are worries about CWD, tick-borne illness and now a midge-born virus is added to the list.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed two cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in wild white-tailed deer in MN. EHD is a viral disease that is spread by a biting insect called a midge.

“All of our neighboring states have been dealing with EHD for years,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “So it was always a question of when it would show up in Minnesota.”

The DNR suspects several deer in the St. Stephen area have recently died from EHD. Tests from two of the deer were positive for EHD, while other deer were too decomposed to test. The outbreak is limited to Stearns County as of now. The disease incubates for 5-10 days, and most infected deer die within 36 hours.

“EHD is both naturally occurring and seasonal,” Cornicelli said. “Given our cold temperatures, we can expect to see a shortened period of infection as frost will kill both the virus and midge that carries it.”

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed EHD in two captive deer in Houston County on Sept. 5. Those cases appear unrelated to the Stearns County case. The disease first appeared in Minnesota in October 2018, when BAH confirmed it in six deer on a Goodhue County farm.

Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio report EHD mortalities nearly every year. Iowa is experiencing an outbreak this year that has killed several hundred deer in the south-central part of the state.

Finding multiple dead deer near a water source is typical of an EHD die-off. Fever drives the animals to seek water, but they die from internal lesions and hemorrhages.

People who find a deceased deer should report it to the nearest DNR area wildlife office. Contact information for each office is listed on the DNR website.

EHD is not a threat to humans or animals outside the deer family. Even so, people should not consume deer that appear to be sick or in poor health.

Additional information about EHD is available on the DNR website.

Hear more about this on Brainerd Outdoors… Saturday Mornings at 7, Sunday Nights at 7, and Monday Mornings at 5 on B93.3,, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Thumbs up to Brian Moon for the tip on this news!