Spatial epidemiology of hemorrhagic disease in Illinois wild white-tailed deer

Sheena J. Dorak, Csaba Varga, Mark G. Ruder, Peg Gronemeyer, Nelda A. Rivera, Douglas R. Dufford, Daniel J. Skinner, Alfred L. Roca, Jan Novakofski, Nohra E. Mateus-Pinilla

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Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and bluetongue (BT) are vector-borne viral diseases that affect wild and domestic ruminants. Clinical signs of EHD and BT are similar; thus, the syndrome is referred to as hemorrhagic disease (HD). Syndromic surveillance and virus detection in North America reveal a northern expansion of HD. High mortalities at northern latitudes suggest recent incursions of HD viruses into northern geographic areas. We evaluated the occurrence of HD in wild Illinois white-tailed deer from 1982 to 2019. Our retrospective space–time analysis identified high-rate clusters of HD cases from 2006 to 2019. The pattern of northward expansion indicates changes in virus-host-vector interactions. Serological evidence from harvested deer revealed prior infection with BTV. However, BTV was not detected from virus isolation in dead deer sampled during outbreaks. Our findings suggest the value of capturing the precise geographic location of outbreaks, the importance of virus isolation to confirm the cause of an outbreak, and the importance of expanding HD surveillance to hunter-harvested wild white-tailed deer. Similarly, it assists in predicting future outbreaks, allowing for targeted disease and vector surveillance, helping wildlife agencies communicate with the public the cause of mortality events and viral hemorrhagic disease outcomes at local and regional scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6888
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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