Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus has been recognized as affecting horses and humans in the eastern United States for 70 yr. Evidence of exposure with EEE virus has been reported in a variety of free-ranging wild birds and mammals but cases of clinical disease are much less commonly reported. In Michigan, reports of outbreaks of EEE virus in equine species extend back more than a half century. We report diagnosis of EEE virus infection of multiple free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from three Michigan counties during late summer of 2005. Infection was confirmed in seven of 30 deer collected based on reported neurologic signs and results from immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction, and/or virus isolation. One of the deer also was infected with West Nile virus and an eighth deer had microscopic lesions in the cerebrum consistent with those reported for EEE. To our knowledge, this is the first report of multiple cases of EEE in free-ranging white-tailed deer, and highlights several issues of significance to wildlife managers and public health officials.
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Vol. 43 • No. 4