Posted: Oct 7, 2013 9:29 PM by Mike Powers - MTN News
MISSOULA - The test results are in and it turns out a disease spread by gnats is responsible for killing hundreds of white tailed deer in the Missoula Valley.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told MTN on Monday night that lab results show 400 deer died from a disease known as EHD.
Most deer deaths were concentrated in the Clark Fork River Valley west of Missoula from Harper's Bridge to approximately 10 miles downstream and in the Mill Creek area northeast of Frenchtown.
The dead deer are often found near water since they run such a high fever; they find water to try to cool off.
EHD is a naturally occurring virus spread by tiny biting midges. It is not spread from deer to deer. The recent cold snap might have been enough to kill off the gnats but it's too soon to tell.
This is the first time the disease has been confirmed west of the continental divide in Montana.
Humans are not at risk of contracting the disease by handling or eating infected deer.