A disease outbreak spread by gnats is responsible for the deaths of some 35 deer, discovered in a small area of hunting unit 11A southwest of Orofino.
However, authorities at Idaho Department of Fish and Game Fish (IDFG) report the public shouldn't worry because there is no danger of the disease being spread to humans. The disease also appears to be very localized with little risk of it spreading through the region's deer herds.
Known as epizootic hemorrhagic disease, commonly referred to as EHD, the disease normally attacks only deer but it can cross with another disease known as Blue Tongue and then infect cattle. Similar to the influenza virus in humans, it is thought that EHD and Blue Tongue are common in the wild, but at times local conditions can cause the diseases to spread more widely.
"The biggest point we need to get across is not to push the panic button," said Mark Drew, a state veterinarian in Caldwell. "The disease appears to be very localized and attacks only deer." Authorities believe that the recent hard freeze likely killed most of the gnats and stopped the spread of EHD.
However, hunters are encouraged to notify IDFG (208-799-5010) if they come across sick, dead or dying deer in the Orofino area.
"We really need to know about it so we know the extent of the effected region," said Drew.