Deer are dying from a disease being detected for the first time in New York.

Three deer in Suffolk County tested positive for bluetongue (BT), a virus closely related to the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said this is the first time the bluetongue (BT) virus was detected in New York deer.

Two white-tailed deer in Rensselaer County were found dead in late August, and one deer in Suffolk County tested positive for EHD. "These are in addition to two deer in the town of Dover Plains, Dutchess County, that died from EHD in mid-August."

Both EHD and BT viruses are often fatal, with deer dying within 36 hours. The disease is transmitted by biting midges, small bugs often called "no-see-ums." Outbreaks are most common in late summer and early fall. The diseases are usually not spread directly from deer to deer, and the DEC said humans cannot be infected by deer or midge bites.

EHD is endemic in the southern states where there are annual outbreaks, so some southern deer have developed immunity. In the northeast, EHD outbreaks occur sporadically and deer in New York have little or no immunity to this virus. Consequently, most EHD-infected deer in New York are expected to die.

The midges that transmit the disease will be killed off during the first hard frost.

Sightings of sick or dying deer should be reported online or to the nearest DEC Regional Office or Environmental Conservation Police Officer.

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