A Third of White-Tailed Deer Tested in Survey Were Exposed to Coronavirus
A third of white-tailed deer tested in four states in a federal study had been exposed to the coronavirus, another indication of the unpredictable nature of the disease. The percentage was highest in Michigan, where 60% of the animals tested positive.
The presence of the virus in wild deer is not just a curiosity for scientists. The virus has been shown to be able to pass from one species to another and, in the worst case, could establish itself in a common animal species, creating a reservoir from which the virus could spread to the man.
“It’s not just a warning about deer,” said Tony Goldberg, a veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has investigated North American bats for evidence of coronavirus infections. .
The deer might have encountered the virus through contact or proximity to other animals or humans. Exposure is not the same as infection; blood tests have detected antibodies, which could indicate that the deer fought off the infection.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service investigated because deer were found to be susceptible to infection and are often in contact with humans. Researchers tested blood samples from deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania in 2020 and 2021. The results have not yet been published in a scientific journal.
Researchers have experimentally infected ferrets, primates and other animals with the coronavirus in the lab, as well as dogs, domestic cats, gorillas and other animals in zoos.
Farmed mink have acquired the virus naturally from humans. The virus has mutated and spread to humans in a few cases. Farmed mink are now vaccinated with an experimental vaccine, just like zoo animals.
North American bat species, Dr Goldberg said, have so far shown no signs of infection. They are very different from the Asian bat species thought to be the original hosts of the virus.
Dr Goldberg said it was difficult to know what close contact with people meant to deer. Animals are often in the yards and gardens, but, he jokes, they aren’t often invited to dinner parties. People could possibly sneeze on a leaf or in the air with deer nearby, he said, scenarios that seemed “plausible but unlikely.”
He added that if a deer were infected, however, they could very well infect or expose other deer to the virus. Wastewater can also contain the coronavirus.
The investigation clearly raised an alarm worthy of attention. “Please add this conclusion as a reason not. 2,784 to get vaccinated, ”said Dr Goldberg.
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