By Sharon Stevens Education Reporter
Allenton, Mo (KSDK) -- Even though rain is on the way, we are still feeling the effects of this year's drought and it is impacting the deer population.
Missouri conservation officials say the drought has increased the number of deer infected with and dying from bluetongue disease.
The news comes just two days before the beginning of deer bow hunting season.
Conservation officials there have eight confirmed cases of bluetongue, but add that as many as 1,100 deer may have already been killed by the disease.
A number of dead deer have been found along the Meramec River near Allenton.
Conservation officials suspect bluetongue killed the deer, but they add the infection rate can be difficult to confirm.
Experts say the ailment is passed by biting flies, called midges, which multiply during a drought.
Bluetongue normally doesn't affect humans but conservation officials warn against touching deer you find dead.
Missouri Department of Conservation and Wildlife regional supervisor Joel Porath says people should be concerned about the deer situation.
"People care about it because they enjoy seeing deer and then also, hunters. Hunters enjoy hunting deer, providing that meat to their families, providing meat to share the harvest and so if you've got a disease killing deer, it can kill five-percent, 25-percent of the deer population," says Porath.
Porath says the virus has been reported in deer across the state.