According to officials at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia, EHD has an incubation period of about a week. Once symptoms develop, infected deer grow short of breath, develop high fevers and begin to hemorrhage internally. Death occurs in one to three days.
People who find EHD-killed deer sometimes attribute the death to blue tongue because EHD's acute symptoms can cause the infected animals' tongue to swell and become discolored.
Crum said this year's outbreak is large enough to attract biologists' attention, but not large enough or widespread enough to affect West Virginia's 2012 deer-hunting seasons.
"There may be small pockets where the mortality rate is high enough to affect hunting, but in general this outbreak isn't large enough to affect the statewide deer kill," he said.
EHD outbreaks usually end a week to 10 days after frost kills off the biting midges.
"We're coming up on frost time, so it shouldn't be long before we've seen the last of the mortality," Crum said. "One of the drawbacks to opening our [archery deer] season so early is that hunters might encounter animals showing symptoms of EHD."
Crum urges hunters who find dead or dying animals to report them to the nearest DNR headquarters so biologists can take tissue samples.
"We send the samples to [the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study], and they tell us whether or not a new [variant of the disease] has made its way into the state," he explained. "So far, we've only had Type 2. Type 1 has been found in some surrounding states, and we're on the lookout for Type 6, which has been showing up in some Midwestern states, mainly in and around captive deer facilities."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.