ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A usually deadly virus, known as bluetongue for one of its symptoms, was found in three deer in Southampton—the first time the disease was identified in New York State, the DEC said Tuesday. Bluetongue is closely related to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). Both are spread by tiny midges, or “no-see-ums,” and outbreaks typically end with the first hard frost of the winter.

Late last month, the hemorrhagic virus was detected in two dead deer, one in Southampton and another in Schodack, the DEC said. The first case of 2022 came just weeks earlier, in Dover Plains.

Environmental officials noted that the diseases caused by the bluetongue virus (BTV) or EHD are not usually spread from deer to deer, and humans cannot be infected by wildlife or bites from midges. Kevin Hynes, Wildlife Health Program Leader with DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, said any game meat should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which should kill or inactivate most viruses, bacteria, or parasites present, as an extra precaution.

There is no treatment or means to prevent EHD or BTV in free-range deer. The two viruses cause the same sorts of symptoms: fever, difficulty breathing, dehydration, swelling of the head, neck, and tongue, attraction to water, and rapid death.

Bluetongue typically kills deer within 36 hours, the DEC said. A link for public reporting of deer with symptoms of the disease is available through the DEC website.