Deadly disease strikes deer in Bath County
Hot Springs, Va. –
Eleven dead deer have been found on the shores of Lake Moomaw in the past week. At Tuesday night’s Bath Board of Supervisors meeting, the board heard a report from District Ranger Patrick Sheridan on the discovery of the deer.
Sheridan reported that the suspected cause of death is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. It’s an infectious disease of white tailed deer in the southeast U.S. and in Virginia. Outbreaks occur almost every year and it is not spread by direct contact. It is transmitted by tiny biting flies, known as biting midges or sand gnats. Sheridan said EHD usually occurs from mid- August through October. Infected deer may appear normal or may only show mild signs of illness. Deer may appear depressed, have a swollen head, neck, tongue or eyelids or have trouble breathing. Sheridan said that dead or dying deer found near water in late summer or early fall are a sign of an EHD outbreak.
Losses from outbreaks are usually well below twenty five percent of the deer population, but in some cases losses have been fifty percent or more. Sheridan added that sometimes simultaneous infections occur in deer, cattle and sheep. Humans are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer or being bitten by infected biting midges. EHD is common and occurs each year in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia. It has been seen west of the Blue Ridge, but it is rare.
Sheridan said anyone seeing deer acting strangely, such as not being afraid of people, should call the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Forest Service office.
During public comment at Tuesday night’s meeting, Jeff Grimm of the Millboro District expressed his concern about there being no preschool program at Millboro Elementary. He said he knows of fifteen interested children that might attend if it were offered. He said he also understands that there is a waiting list of four or five children for preschool at Valley Elementary. Grimm said he felt the county should offer the opportunity for preschool for all children.
Board Chair Cliff Gilchrest said he is concerned and disappointed at this point about preschool not being offered at Millboro. He said knowing that the school budget included money for a full time principal at Millboro and knowing that the principal has two young children, Gilchrest said he had a great deal of confidence that if it doesn’t happen this year, there will be a full fledged preschool program at Millboro by next year.
The board heard a brief update from County Administrator Matt Walker on the refinancing of the debt on the high school renovation project. The county is refinancing the loan at a lower fixed interest rate for a ten year term. The current loan has a variable rate with a large balloon payment at the end. Walker reported that the early termination fee on the current loan has been set at $869,000. The refinancing, including that fee, will save the county just shy of one million dollars over the ten year period.