St. Paul (KROC AM News) - A new deer disease has made its way to Southeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has confirmed the first cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Minnesota deer. Six of the seven animals in a small herd of captive white-tailed deer in Goodhue County died of the disease earlier this month. It is the first time that this disease has been found in a Minnesota deer, but is widespread across North America. The disease has been detected in two Minnesota cattle. One in Brown County in 2012 and one in Murray County in 2013.

“This virus is transmitted between deer by biting midges, or gnats, which are most active in the fall before they are killed by the first frost of the season,” said Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Mackenzie Reberg. “These bugs can’t travel far on their own and we’re concerned by this detection because the herd owner hasn’t moved deer onto the property for several years.”

The deaths of the animals came very quick, which alarmed the owner. The owner worked with their veterinarian to submit tissues for testing to the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to determine the cause of death. EHD was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

There are no known health risks to people from EHD, and affects members of the deer family Cervidae. Many different deer species may be infected with EHD, and white-tailed deer are highly susceptible and experience high rates of mortality. Most die within 36 hours of symptoms including fever, anorexia, lethargy, stiffness, respiratory distress, oral ulcers and severe swelling of the head and neck.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine available in the U.S.

The Board has notified the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources of the confirmed cases in southeastern Minnesota.

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