SAMUEL: More information on deer keds


A few weeks ago I wrote about deer keds on deer and the potential disease problems for hunters. Subsequently I heard from a number of bowhunters who found keds on their deer in the past few weeks.

 The question I raised was whether keds could transmit Lyme disease to hunters since the bacteria in keds is the same as that found in ticks that spread Lyme disease.

I should have known that if there was concern, the DNR would have published warnings for hunters simply because Dr. Jim Crum, the deer project director for the state, has training in wildlife diseases. He would know.

So, I did some further inquiries and those led me to Ethan Barton, disease specialist and biologist out of the West Virginia DNR Romney office. Ethan is relatively new to our DNR and is a wealth of knowledge on diseases.

Keds have been around for a while and recent research has used molecular methods to find genetic material in organisms.

 Researchers found genetic material from bacteria that you traditionally find in ticks that are the primary vector of various diseases that we can get. Lyme disease is one of those diseases.

The presence of such genetic material doesn’t mean keds have it in their body. They might just have it in their mouth parts, and since a ked bite to humans lasts only a few seconds, it’s not likely to spread a disease to us.

 Tick bites, on the other hand, last as long as the tick is attached to us, and sometimes that can be hours or even days.

There are a lot of other questions relative to keds and keds biting us, but the bottom line is that hunters should be more concerned about ticks than keds.

 As I mentioned in my earlier column, the solution for ticks and keds is to treat clothing with permethrin. As I also noted, you can’t use permethrin on your skin so when handling or gutting deer, you should wear latex gloves.

 They are inexpensive. Just buy a bulk package of them and carry a pair in your backpack. They are easy to put on and you don’t get blood and other intestinal material on your hands.

As Ethan Barton put in his email, “Generally keds are not thought to be any significant concern for deer herd health or human health (it is possible this last part may change in the future as we learn more about potential competency as a vector, but certainly ticks would remain a much larger concern for disease transmission overall due to their more ubiquitous nature and the known relatively high prevalence of Borrelia and some other potential zoonoses in ticks regionally).”

GPS-collared mountain lion covered some ground

A young mountain lion spent the summer moving from state to state. We know that if lion density gets high, some young lions will move. One young lion that had a GPS collar was tracked from New Mexico to Colorado, where he was also photographed on a trail camera.

 In all he covered 558 miles. Is that unusual for a mountain lion? Very.

Dr. Samuel is a retired wildlife professor from West Virginia University. His outdoor columns have appeared, and continue to appear, in Bowhunter magazine and the Whitetail Journal. If you have questions or comments on wildlife and conservation issues, email him at