‘Zombie Deer’ Disease Creeps Into Ohio, Other Parts of Midwest

by Jonathan Howard

If you’re paying any attention to outdoors news lately, you know about the zombie deer phenomenon that’s plaguing the Midwest. Ohio has been one of the states that is just now taking on cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Usually just seen in the Southeast United States, the spreadd into the Midwest is a startling sight for some officials.

What Causes Zombie Deer?

EHD is the viral disease that causes the so-called zombie deer. White tail deer are infected by biting midges and sometimes even gnats will carry the disease. After being infected, deer will start to express symptoms that include weakness, being lethargic, and often times disoreiented. We all know about the deer in headlights thing, but this is completely different.

Physically, an infected deer will have swelling in the face and mouth. Some deer will have blue-tinged tongues.

“This deer was just standing there and unresponsive to us just like… like it wasn’t afraid,” said James Love. Love is with the Colerain Township Police Department as an information officer. “It was a total surprise to all of us. We’ve never see anything like that.”

The disease has no human concern. So, don’t worry about becoming infected with mad deer disease. However, these zombie deer are just part of the disease. High mortality rates are also associated with the disease and it’s no laughing matter for the folks battling EHD.

Don’t Confuse EHD with Chronic Wasting Disease

Of course, the term zombie deer is not the official name of any sort of disease or diagnosis. EHD is a disease spreading to the Midwest currently and has been the lastest disease slapped with the sci-fi horror misnomer. Chronic Wasting Disease was one of the first to invoke the term.

Michael Tonkovich, Divisiion of Wildlife administrator in Ohio made a point about referring to thes illnesses the proper way.

“The unfortunate label originated with another serious, always fatal deer disease – Chronic Wasting Disease,” Tonkovich said. “As a result, many now are confused about what is killing thes deer in Ohio and Indiana. To be clear, it is hemorrhagic disease, not CWD and surely not some Z-disease.”

As the year moves into the fall season, there is hope that an early frost could help stop this. However, warm weather is likely to help these disease spreading insects to breed more and spread the disease more throughout the Midwest.

There very well could be an impact on the hunting season this November. So, folks should stay aware of updates and announcements in their areas. Let’s hope the zombie deer will not be walking around come Halloween.