One-Third of White-Tailed Deer Tested in Survey


One-third of white-tailed deer tested in four states during a federal study were exposed to the coronavirus, another indication of the unpredictable nature of the disease. The percentage was highest in Michigan, where 60 percent of the animals tested positive.

The presence of the virus in wild deer is not just a curiosity for scientists. The virus has shown that it can jump from one species to another and, worse still, settle in a common animal species and create a reservoir where the virus can spread back to humans.

“It’s not just a warning about deer,” said Tony Goldberg, a veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who has been investigating North American bats for evidence of coronavirus infections.

The deer may have encountered the virus through contact or proximity to other animals or humans. Exposure is not the same as infection; blood tests detected antibodies that could indicate the deer is fighting the infection.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted the survey because deer be susceptible to infection and often interacts with people. The researchers tested blood samples from deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania in 2020 and 2021. The findings have not yet been published in a scientific journal.

Researchers have experimentally infected ferrets, primates, and other animals in the lab, and dogs, domestic cats, gorillas, and other animals in zoos.

The farm mink naturally contracted the virus from humans. The virus mutated and in a few cases spread back to humans. farm mink now being vaccinated with an experimental vaccine, like zoo animals.

Dr. The North American bat species has so far shown no evidence of infection, Goldberg said. They differ significantly from Asian bat species, which are suspected to be the original hosts of the virus.

Dr. Goldberg said it’s difficult to know what close contact with humans means for deer. Animals are often found in courtyards and gardens, but he joked, they were not usually invited to dinner parties. He said there were “plausible but unlikely” scenarios where people could sneeze on a leaf or in the air when there are deer nearby.

However, he added that if one deer becomes infected, it can infect or expose the other deer to the virus. Sewage can also contain the coronavirus.

The survey clearly raised an alarm worthy of attention. “Please add this finding as why no. To get 2,784 vaccines,” said Dr. Goldberg.


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