Deer with Certain Mutations in Toll-Like Receptor 3 (TLR3) Gene Protected from Fatal Midge-Borne Viral Disease

White-Tailed Deer

It was the height of summer 2022 when the calls started coming in. Scores of dead deer suddenly littered rural properties and park preserves, alarming the public and inconveniencing landowners. According to officials at the Urbana Park District, it was epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a midge-borne viral illness that pops up in white-tailed deer populations around the state every few years. And when susceptible deer are infected, they die within days. Now, University of Illinois scientists have found gene variants in deer associated with the animals’ susceptibility to EHD.

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