READING — Pennsylvania Game Commission officials Thursday announced that in recent weeks the Southeast Region office dispatch center has received dozens of reports of dead deer in northern Chester and southern Berks counties.
Game wardens have been busy confirming the reports and taking viable samples of the deceased deer to submit for laboratory testing.
“We are aware of a significant deer mortality event in northern Chester and southern Berks counties and have submitted numerous samples to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) laboratory in Georgia to determine the cause,” said Southeast Region Director, Bruce Metz, in a news release.
Localized deer mortality events such as this have occurred in years past and were determined to be caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). Although EHD is suspected to have caused the deaths of the deer examined, the Game Commission has not received confirmation the deer mortality in Chester and Berks counties is a result of an EHD outbreak.
EHD is an often-fatal disease caused by a virus affecting white-tailed deer populations in the United States and is contracted through the bite of insects called "biting midges." In more northern states, such as Pennsylvania, EHD occurs less often and affected deer are less likely to mount an effective immune response. The virus usually kills the deer within five to 10 days. It is not spread from deer to deer by contact. While EHD is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD are usually not suitable for consumption because of the rapid deterioration of the meat and secondary bacterial infection.
As a routine precaution, all hunters are encouraged to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling or field-dressing any animal, and wash their hands and tools thoroughly after field dressing
The Game Commission is encouraging residents of to call the Southeast Region office in Reading at 610-926-3136 to report dead, sick or injured deer.