MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota DNR has confirmed the first two cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) – a midge-born virus – in wild white-tailed deer in Minnesota.

According to the DNR, several deer in the St. Stephen area of Stearns County have died from EHD. Tests from two of the white-tailed deer were positive for EHD, while the other deer were too decomposed to test.

The DNR says the outbreak is limited to Stearns County.

On Sept. 5, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed EHD in two captive deer in Houston County. The cases appear unrelated to the Stearns County case.

“All of our neighboring states have been dealing with EHD for years,” Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said. “So it was always a question of when it would show up in Minnesota.”

Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio report deer deaths from EHD nearly every year.

While the disease can dramatically reduce a local deer population in the long term, the DNR says it has a relatively small impact on the overall deer population.

“EHD is both naturally occurring and seasonal,” Cornicelli said. “Given our cold temperatures, we can expect to see a shortened period of infection as frost will kill both the virus and midge that carries it.”

EHD is a viral disease that is spread by a biting insect called a midge. EDH is not a threat to humans or animals outside the deer family, the DNR says.

Anyone who finds a dead deer should report it to the nearest DNR area wildlife office.

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