NEW YORK STATE (WWTI) – A disease deadly to deer is spreading throughout New York State.

On Thursday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease has spread to Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Nassau, Oswego, Suffolk, and Ulster counties. The DEC is also tracking suspected cases in Albany, Jefferson, Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties.

The DEC stated that it is also tracking new reports of dead deer to estimate the number of deer succumbing to this disease. To date, the DEC has received reports of approximately 700 dead deer.

According to the DEC, the EHD virus is typically a fatal disease for deer. It is transmitted by biting midges, which are small insects, sometimes referred to as “no-see-ums” or “punkies.” The disease is not spread from deer to deer and humans cannot be infected by deer or bites from midges.

Once infected with the EHD virus, deer usually die within 36 hours. EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when midges are abundant. Frequently, infected deer will seek out water sources and many succumb near a water source. There is no treatment or means to prevent EHD.

Compared to years past, EHD has been more widespread this year. The virus was first confirmed in New York deer in 2007, with relatively small outbreaks in Albany, Rensselaer, and Niagara counties, and in Rockland County in 2011. From early September to late October 2020, a large EHD outbreak occurred in the lower Hudson Valley, centered in Putnam and Orange counties, with an estimated 1,500 deer mortalities.

New Yorkers are urged to report sightings of sick or dead deer suspected of having EHD. These cases can be reported to the DEC via the online EHD reporting form, or by contacting the nearest DEC Regional Wildlife Office.