The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says a viral disease has spread to deer populations across much of Nebraska.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease spreads from deer to deer by the bite of a small insect known as a midge found in and around standing pools of water. Game and Parks says the virus is suspected in the reported deaths of more than 2,200 Nebraska deer this year.
The disease causes hemorrhaging within the deer's body. Deer suffering from the virus may develop a high fever and seek water, which is why many deer killed by the disease are found in or near water. Once a deer has been bitten, that animal usually dies within 48 hours.
With a deer disease running rampant through the population and deer hunting season about to start, is the disease a threat to humans?
"We want to encourage those folks to continue to go into the field, that this EHD, this deer disease is not going to have any impact on eating a deer that would be harvested that would potentially have this," says Greg Wagner with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The commission wants people to report any deer deaths that may be attributed to this disease to their nearest Game and Parks office. Game and Parks says EHD has been a part of the Nebraska and Iowa and deer populations since the 70s, but this year the dry, hot summer has made it much more prevalent.
"The perfect storm set up for us this year for this Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease that affect deer," says Wagner. "We're talking about drought, heat and biting insects."