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Iowa Department of Agriculture: Some Iowa Cattle Sickened By EHDIowa Department of Agriculture: Some Iowa Cattle Sickened By EHD

Iowa Department of Agriculture says more than 15 cattle herds in Iowa have had cattle infected by a virus known to primarily affect deer.

October 1, 2012

4 Min Read

The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship says more than 15 cattle herds primarily in western Iowa have had animals contract the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD virus, in 2012. EHD is a virus that is spread by biting midges (an insect) and EHD primarily affects deer.  A hard freeze kills midges and will stop spread of the virus.

EHD can cause illness in cattle, including fever, ulcers in the mouth and gums, swollen tongue, excessive salivation and lameness or stiffness when walking.  Death loss is uncommon in cattle and there is no evidence that the EHD virus can infect humans.


EHD rarely affects cattle, but the wild whitetail deer population in southern and western areas of Iowa and surrounding states is seeing the disease at high levels this year.  EHD is common in whitetail and other deer in some years and can be fatal in these deer. Cattle farmers are advised to use insect control as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of having cattle that become infected.  Farmers who notice signs of illness in cattle are encouraged to immediately contact their veterinarian.


In other news regarding animal health, the west Nile virus continues to impact horses in Iowa. People are reminded to take steps to limit exposure from mosquitoes that can carry the virus.

West Nile virus continues to impact horses in Iowa; control steps are needed

The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, together with the Iowa Department of Public Health, is reminding people that mosquitoes remain active until a hard freeze occurs and mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus. 

Surveillance has shown a larger number of horses have been infected with West Nile virus this year, with more than 20 confirmed cases.  Last year Iowa only had one confirmed case in horses.

"Horse owners are encouraged to make sure they get their animals vaccinated and keep the vaccination up-to-date," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.  "The cases we are seeing are in horses that have not been vaccinated or are not current on their vaccinations, so we are encouraging owners to talk to their veterinarian and make sure their animals are protected."

In 2012 in Iowa 19 people in 16 counties have been diagnosed with West Nile

Nineteen Iowans in 16 counties have been diagnosed with West Nile virus in 2012. No West Nile virus-related deaths have been reported this year. Last year, there were nine human cases with two deaths.

Humans cannot 'catch' West Nile from an animal, but an increase in the number of animal cases indicates higher activity among mosquitoes carrying the virus.

"The number of Iowans infected with West Nile virus tends to increase in September and sometimes into October if the weather stays nice," says Iowa Department of Public Health medical director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "Until the state's first hard frost, whether it's for work or play, being outside means there's a risk for West Nile virus."

West Nile virus is a disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Iowans should take the following steps to reduce risk of exposure to West Nile virus:

* Use insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years of age and DEET should not be used on children less than 2 months of age.

* Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

* Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks outdoors whenever possible.

* Eliminate standing water around the home because that's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.

For more information on West Nile virus and to see a surveillance map of activity, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health's website.

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