Hemorrhagic disease found in North Dakota cattle, deer

BISMARCK – Livestock producers, especially in southern and southwestern North Dakota, should be on the watch for an infectious disease usually associated with deer.

Dr. Susan Keller, North Dakota state veterinarian, urged producers to contact their veterinarians if their livestock display symptoms of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), including excessive salivation, swollen tongue, lameness or stiffness when walking, ulcers in the mouth and gums, fever and reproductive problems.

Keller said cases have been reported in cattle in several North Dakota counties.

“The clinical signs are similar to those of bovine viral diarrhea, bluetongue and foot and mouth disease,” Keller said. “Producers who detect these symptoms should report them immediately, so foreign animal disease can be ruled out.”

“EHD has been identified in deer south and west of the Missouri River,” said Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “Areas along the Cannonball and Heart Rivers in Sioux and Grant counties seem to be most impacted by EHD.”

Grove said the disease has also been found in deer in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming this year.

“It is important for producers to work with their veterinarians to determine the cause of illness or death,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

Keller said infected cattle usually recover from EHD, which poses no threat to human health.

A viral disease, EHD primarily attacks wild ruminants, such as deer, bighorn sheep and antelope, but can also affect domestic animals – cattle, sheep and goats. It is spread by midges, tiny biting flies of the genus Culocoides and is not spread from animal to animal.

Although EHD is often fatal to deer, its effect on cattle is usually much less severe. Closely related, but different than bluetongue, EHD exists in several strains. The North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the National Veterinary Service Laboratory confirmed EHD2 in the affected North Dakota cattle.