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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials say the number of deer that have died from a viral disease spread by biting gnats has fallen dramatically this year.

   In a news release, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that through the end of September, 403 deer died as a result of what is called Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD. That compares to more than 2,000 probable EHD deaths for the same period last year.

   Also, the number of counties where EHD has been reported has dropped from 76 counties during the first nine months of last year to 51 counties for the period this year. Officials say they believe the exposure to EHD last year has made deer populations more resistant to the disease this year.

 
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