Four cows in Walla Walla and Franklin counties were diagnosed this week with epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a potentially deadly virus that primarily effects wild deer populations but occasionally crosses over to cattle, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Cattle owners should be on the lookout for EHD symptoms such as excessive drooling, lethargy, difficulty walking, or oral and nasal lesions with ulceration, which are similar to the much more devastating foot-and-mouth disease, the announcement stated.

Supportive care is the only treatment for infected cows. People should contact their veterinarians if they observe these symptoms.

“Although EHD is seldom prevalent in cattle, we must show an abundance of caution and investigate each case due to the similarity of symptoms this disease has with the highly contagious and economically disastrous foot-and-mouth disease,” said Washington veterinarian Dr. Brian Joseph.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is not a threat to human health, the announcement stated. The disease usually occurs in cattle where environmental conditions support large populations of biting midges. All ruminants can be affected, but generally it is a deer disease.

No vaccines for EHD are available. The best defense is to control the midges by eliminating standing water from areas used by cows, apply insecticides around water areas to decrease the swarms, or use bug repellent on the cows.

In the coming weeks, the cool fall weather and frost is expected to limit the gnat population and the spread of the disease, according to the Department of Agriculture.

For more information, visit WSDA’s Animal Services Division webpage at ubne.ws/2odBxx7.