State officials are asking anyone who sees any deer "appearing emaciated, behaving strangely, or lying dead" along the edge of any bodies of water to report them immediately to wildlife authorities.
More than 50 white-tailed deer after Department of Energy and Environmental Protection members said the animals exhibited symptoms associated with Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease since early September.
The affected deer were found primarily in Middletown and Portland as well as Chester, Haddam, and Lyme. DEEP said they learned about the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease after several dead deer were found in the Portland/Middletown area by a concerned hunter.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease does not infect humans, DEEP officials said. People are also "not at risk by eating venison from or handling infected deer, or by being bitten by infected midges."
"However, hunters are advised to exercise caution if they observe a deer that is behaving abnormally or appears sick and avoid shooting, handling, or consuming that animal. When field dressing deer, hunters should wear latex or rubber gloves and disinfect any instruments that come in contact with the animal," DEEP said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to DEEP, the disease is spread to deer by tiny biting flies, also known as midges. Symptoms for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease can include swollen head, neck, tongue, or eyelids with a bloody discharge from the nasal cavity; ulcers on the tongue; and hemorrhaging of the heart and lungs followed by death within three to five days.
"Outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease routinely occur during late summer and early fall as the number of midges increase, and ceases with the onset of a hard frost, which kills the midges carrying the virus. Although temperatures have dipped into the upper 30’s along the Connecticut River in recent days, a hard frost has not occurred," DEEP said in a statement on Wednesday.
Animals affected by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease can sometimes be found in or near water, DEEP said.
DEEP officials said Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease "rarely causes illness" in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Besides white-tailed deer, other mammals, including mule deer, elk, and domestic cattle can be detected by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
Anyone with any information is asked to call DEEP’s 24-hour Emergency Dispatch Center at 860-424-3333, the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-418-5921, or by sending an email to Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, click here.
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