Disease Causing ‘Zombie Deer’ Sparks Panic Among Ohio Residents

An outbreak of a disease in Ohio is resulting in “zombie deer” that have no fear of humans.

The disease has sparked panic among Ohio residents and others in neighboring states, though officials say the “zombie deer” are nothing to be afraid of.

Despite the nickname they’ve garnered, the deer suffering from the disease are virtually harmless to humans.

Photo: flickr/Jan Mosimann

Fox 19 News reports that the deer are suffering from a disease called Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). While it may seem intimidating and scary, it doesn’t affect humans or venison.

According to The Enquirer, deer with EHD have been reported in at least 28 counties throughout Ohio. Officials with the state are currently testing deer from various counties to try and estimate the prevalence of the disease.

Photo: PublicDomainPictures

A report from Cornell University notes that EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer and it can result in significant mortality events in deer populations.

Signs of the disease generally start around 7 days after the deer has been affected and include reduced appetite, weakness, and loss of fear of humans. Deer suffering from the disease often presents with a fever and swelling that affects the head, neck, tongue, and/or eyelids.

Photo: flickr/Sebastian Di Domenico

According to Cornell University, deer quickly die from the disease once symptoms are present (within 8 to 36 hours). Deer contract the disease by being bitten by midge flies (commonly known as “no-see-ums” or gnats).

There is currently no treatment or prevention plan for EHD among deer populations. However, The Enquirer reports that the Department of Natural Resources belives the deer populations will “bounce back within a few years.”

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