Study: White-tailed deer being infected with SARS-CoV-2

A new study from US shows that white-tailed deer are being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 in humans.

Key Points

  • During the study, Antibodies were found in 40% of deer. They were tested in between January to March 2021 across Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York state.
  • A similar unpublished study also detected virus in 80% of deer in Iowa in between November 2020 to January 2021.
  • Considering the high level of infections, researchers concluded that, deer are actively transmitting the virus to one another.
  • Researchers also identified different SARS-CoV-2 variants, which suggests that there have been several human-to-deer infections.

How white-tailed deer got infected?

Large numbers of white-tailed deer in North America got infected with the virus because they often live close to people, providing opportunities to the virus to transmit between both the species. People often get involved in wildlife management operations, recreation, field research, tourism and hunting. However, it is also being suggested that water sources contaminated with covid-19 virus might provide a pathway for transmission.

White-tailed deer

The white-tailed deer is scientifically called as Odocoileus virginianus. It is also called as whitetail or Virginia deer. The deer is a medium-sized and is native to North America, Ecuador, Central America, Peru, South America, and Bolivia. It has also been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Hispaniola as well as some countries in Europe like Finland, Czech Republic, Romania, France, Germany, and Serbia.

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