State wildlife officials say a disease has killed hundreds of deer across New Jersey in the last two months, thinning the herd in at least five counties.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease has resurfaced in one of the most significant outbreaks in state history, though it has subsided in recent weeks. In an article in the The Star-Ledger of Newark, officials said there was nothing they could do about the illness, which is spread by tiny bugs. But they noted that the disease has no affect on humans and can't be transmitted through handling or eating infected deer meat

Since early August, the disease has killed deer in Morris, Union, Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset Counties. State environment officials were aware of earlier cases this year, including one in New Brunswick; another case is suspected in Florence.

It's unclear what the long-term impact could be, but officials say the state deer population of roughly 114,000 shouldn't be affected too badly. Experts say the disease is fairly common and returns every few years. It fanned across 10 counties in 2007, and in 1999, it was blamed for the deaths of more than 4,000 white-tailed deer in the Salem County area. - AP