3 Deer on LI Test Positive for Bluetongue Virus, First in New York State

SOUTHAMPTON, NY – Three deer in Southampton have tested positive for bluetongue, state conservation officials said this week.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection said bluetongue virus is closely related to epizootic hemorrhagic disease and spread in the same way. Bluetang is not transmittable to humans or pets.

Bluetongue virus was first detected in New York deer in Southampton cases; However, it was detected in several other mid-Atlantic coast states this year, conservation officials said.

Hemorrhagic diseases and viruses cause similar symptoms in deer, including fever, difficulty breathing, dehydration, swelling of the head, neck and tongue, attraction to water, and rapid death. Often, infected deer will seek out water sources. Many people die in or near water sources. Officials said once clinical signs of hemorrhagic disease or bluetung infection become apparent, the deer usually die within 36 hours.

There is no cure or means to prevent disease and virus in free deer. Dead deer do not infect other animals. Diseases and viruses can infect both cattle and sheep; Officials said cattle rarely show signs of disease, but sheep can suffer from severe disease and death from a bluetung infection.

The Department of Conservation also reported that two white-tailed deer were found dead in late August in the town of Shodack in Rensselaer County, and a deer in Southampton was also confirmed positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Officials said these are in addition to two deer in the plains town of Dover in Duchess County, which died of the disease in mid-August.

Hemorrhagic disease virus and bluetung virus are often fatal to deer. They are transmitted by biting midges, possibly Culicoides sp., , The tiny insects are often referred to as “no-see-ums,” officials said.

Outbreaks are most common in late summer and early fall when midsummers are abundant. The DEC said the diseases caused by the virus are not usually transmitted directly from deer to deer, and humans cannot be infected by deer or by bites from the middle.

Hemorrhagic disease virus was first confirmed in New York in 2007, with relatively small outbreaks in Albany, Rensselaer and Niagara counties, and in 2011 in Rockland County. In 2020, a major virus outbreak occurred in the lower Hudson Valley, centered in Putnam. and Orange County, with the public reporting about 1,500 dead deer. The outbreak shifted to 2021 and the DEC received more than 2,000 reports of dead deer, mainly in Ulster, Duchess, Columbia, Oswego and Jefferson counties.

Conservation officials said the outbreaks do not have a significant long-term impact on deer populations, but deer mortality can be intense in small geographic areas. Hemorrhagic disease virus is endemic in southern states where annual outbreaks occur, so some southern deer have developed immunity. In the Northeast, outbreaks occur sporadically and in New York deer have little or no immunity to the virus, officials said. Therefore, most EHD-infected deer are expected to die in New York. In the north, the first hard frost kills disease-transmitting midges, ending EHD and Bt outbreaks.

Sick or dying deer must be seen reported online or to the nearest DEC Regional Office either environmental protection police officer, A link to more information about EHD and public reporting of deer with EHD symptoms can be found here, The DEC can collect samples from deer and analyze data from deer reports to determine the extent of the outbreak.

Last year, deer in Suffolk County also died of EHD, According to DEC.

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