The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Veterinary Services has received confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa that samples from cattle in Orange County are positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).

VDACS had gotten reports from veterinarians and cattle producers of ulcers, sore mouths, reluctance to eat and lameness in cattle, all of which indicate the possibility of EHD.

While NVSL performed blood tests that confirmed the cattle had been exposed to the virus, that does not mean they actually have contracted the disease. Many people believe that cattle can get a disease similar to EHD in deer, but science has yet to prove that.

VDACS is taking precautions, however, by advising cattle owners to report symptoms that may appear to be EHD to their local veterinarian just to reduce the possibility of overlooking other more serious diseases and to be on the safe side of animal health.

Cattle infected with EHD may experience weight loss or decreased milk production while symptoms are present. The disease is rarely fatal in cattle and poses no known threat to human health.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, a disease common to white-tailed deer, comes from a virus carried by biting gnats and it typically occurs in warm, dry conditions. The first hard frost will usually kill the disease-carrying gnats. In the meantime, to prevent EHD in cattle, VDACS recommends keeping them away from deer and using external parasite control.

For more information on EHD in cattle, check with your veterinarian, or contact VDACS’ Division of Animal and Food Industry Services at 804-692-0601. For information about EHD in deer, contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-367-1000.