State confirms bluetongue disease in deer

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The state has confirmed an outbreak of deadly bluetongue disease in white-tailed deer in portions of drought-stricken Eastern Washington.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife says the disease will not impact this year’s hunting seasons.

Bluetongue is a virus transmitted by biting gnats at water sources where deer congregate during dry conditions. Every year in late summer and early fall, some white-tailed deer are lost to bluetongue.

The agency does not know precisely how many deer have been affected, but reports are more widespread and numerous than in the past.

The agency has received reports of suspected deaths from bluetongue or a similar virus in the region that includes the 10 easternmost counties of the state.

The outbreaks usually end with the arrival of colder, wetter weather.