The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division has been investigating what killed several deer in the Portland and Middletown area after a hunter contacted them and they have linked the deaths to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
Since September, the department has documented more than 50 white-tailed deer that exhibited symptoms associated with EHDV-6, and state officials said the cases are primarily in Middletown and Portland, but there have been a few in Chester, Haddam and Lyme.
Tiny biting flies, or midges, transmit EHDV-6 to deer.
The disease progresses rapidly with deer, but state officials said concerns about hemorrhagic disease should not limit hunters’ willingness to harvest deer during the hunting season.
They said the disease does not infect humans and people are not at risk by eating venison from or handling infected deer, or by being bitten by infected midges.
State officials said the disease rarely causes illness in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs and cats.
Hunters, however, should use caution if they saw a deer behaving abnormally or appears sick and avoid shooting, handling, or consuming that animal. When field dressing deer, state officials urge hunters to wear latex or rubber gloves and disinfect any instruments that come in contact with the animal.
Before 2004, only two subtypes of Hemorrhagic Disease were documented in North America -- EHDV-1 and 2. EHDV-6 was first detected in 2006 in Indiana and Illinois, and has since been reported throughout the Midwest, and from Florida, North Carolina and Maryland.