Deer bucks

Deer graze in Pequea Township's Silver Mine Park in this 2017 file photo.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has confirmed recent deaths of deer in northern Chester and southern Berks counties were caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

Since Aug. 29, dozens of dead deer have been found in the affected area. Game wardens continue to investigate new reports and collect and submit tissue samples from deer that are not in advanced stages of decomposition.

“We appreciate the public's concern and involvement and will continue to investigate deer deaths reported at new locations, so we can monitor the severity of this year's outbreak,” said Bruce Metz, director of the agency’s southeast regional office.

“The outbreak should subside once colder weather sets in and the area receives a hard frost or two, which will kill the midges.”

The disease is an often-fatal one for deer and caused by a virus affecting white-tailed deer populations in the United States.

Deer contract the disease through the bite of insects called “biting midges.”  In more northern states, such as Pennsylvania, the disease occurs less often and affected deer are less likely to mount an effective immune response.

The virus usually kills the deer within five to 10 days.  It is not spread from deer to deer by contact.

While it is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms are usually not suitable for consumption because of the rapid deterioration of the meat and secondary bacterial infection.

As a routine precaution, all hunters are encouraged to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling or field-dressing any animal, and wash their hands and tools thoroughly after field dressing

The Game Commission encourages residents to call the Southeast Region Office in Reading at 610-926-3136 to report dead, sick or injured deer.

More information about the disease can be found here.