Idaho Fish And Game Confirms Outbreak Of Bluetongue Disease In Whitetails

Idaho Fish and Game officials recently reported that up to 1,000 whitetails have died from an outbreak of bluetongue, a virus transmitted by gnats that is similar to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). The disease hit whitetail herds in the Grangeville, Whitebird, Harpster, Juliaetta, Kendrick, Troy, Deary and nearby areas. and is not expected to significantly reduce whitetail populations, or affect hunting season that opened Oct. 10.

Hunters are advised that they should not harvest obviously sick deer. The virus cannot infect humans, so even in areas where EHD or bluetongue is present; consumption of meat from animals that are not obviously sick poses no significant health risks to humans.

This year’s outbreak is not expected to be anywhere near 2003 in terms of deer die offs, and neither bluetongue nor EHD has long-term, significant population impacts on white-tailed deer. Idaho’s whitetail populations are high, and hunters will find deer, but the outbreak could affect local herds.
Gnats transport the virus from animal to animal, and hot, dry summers cause more severe outbreaks as the animals congregate around water sources that are prime breeding ground for gnats. The outbreak typically winds down when the first hard frost kills the gnat population.

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