The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says chronic wasting disease has been found in three central Nebraska counties for the first time.
The commission says a total of 26 deer carcasses tested positive for the disease in Buffalo, Custer and Holt counties during the November firearm hunting season.
Nearly 1,600 lymph node samples were taken.
One mule deer carcass in Garden County tested positive.
In 2010, 51 positives were found in the more than 3,600 test samples.
The 2011 testing was curtailed by budget issues, so it was concentrated on central Nebraska, which the commission says is the leading edge of the disease as it spreads from west to east.
The disease affects deer and elk and is always fatal.
No human cases have ever been recorded.