LSU is conducting extensive research on EHD and how the vector Culicoides sp. causes the virus to infect whitetails. This work is extremely important to deer breeders and sportsman alike because large numbers of deer can die from EHD and Blue Tongue each year whether they are in breeding operations or in the wild. The deaths in the wild may go largely unnoticed because when a deer is sick it seeks out dense cover to hide in. If they die there, within days the carcass is reduced to bones in the heat of summer. In the fall during hunting season the remains would seldom be discovered.
LSU has taken a different approach to their research at their newly established Wildlife Institute. Vaccines produced so far have been largely unsuccessful. Instead of culturing the virus from infected deer to produce a vaccine, they will determine why the virus doesn't infect the deer if injected into them. For the deer to become infected it seems that the gnat has to bite them. They believe that there may be a component of the saliva that is triggering something that allows the virus to become infectious in the animal. If they can isolate what causes the infection, they can produce a vaccine that can be challenge-tested. If successful, this may be the first vaccine that is actually effective in controlling these devastating diseases. If a vaccine can be produced and made for oral use, it may prove to be very important in preventing catastrophic deaths in the wild.
Any sportsman that loves the whitetail and wants to keep a healthy population to hunt should be interested in this new research. If you know of anyone, a company or organization that can help with funding please contact me and I'll get you in touch with someone at LSU that will be happy for the assistance. Their research facility will not be a fancy new building. Their money will go to staff and equipment. It will not be wasted. They have been very eager to work with our Whitetails of Louisiana organization. We hope to form a close working relationship with them because we see first hand how devastating this disease is. Thanks for your interest in this new era of EHD research.