A small number of cattle in Iowa have been hit by a disease that has had a much bigger impact on deer. State Veterinarian, David Schmitt, says the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD virus is spread by a biting midge.
“There’s not lateral spread as far as to other animals from an infected animal. Typically what we will see in this disease is that there may be a cow or two cows in a pasture. Typically they may have their tongue hanging out, their tongue may be swollen, and they get sores in their mouth,” Schmitt says.
The disease has hit deer hard this year as the drought has forced the animals to bunch up more around sources of water. He says the latest report that he saw from the Department of Natural Resources showed around 1,200 dead wild whitetail deer from the disease, while there have been 15 to 20 reports of it in cattle.
Dr. Schmitt says cattle have a better outcome than deer when they get infected. “Almost all of the cattle end up recovering as far as from EHD,”Schmitt says. “…most commonly what veteranarions will do is use antibiotics or antinflamatories, good nursing care for those individuals if they are off feed, but essentially, all of those have recovered.”
Schmitt says a hard freeze kills midges and will stop the spread of the virus. The cases in cattle have been mainly in western and southern Iowa, areas of the state that have larger deer populations. He says producers who notice signs of illness in cattle are encouraged to immediately contact their veterinarian.