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White-Tailed Deer tested positive for COVID-19

by Leyou Jiang

The recent boom in covid cases has everyone on alert. From schools to workplaces, safety precautions are being put to the test. Cases in the United States have been rising, and more and more variants are showing up in the news.

Scientists have started to test wild animals and their results may surprise you.

According to scientists in the Ohio State Infectious Diseases Institute, several strains of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in white-tailed deer. Scientists have found that samples of the strains affecting the deer from January 2021 to March 2021 have been identified to be the same strains affecting the nearby areas during the same time. 

How does this affect us?

According to Andrew Bowman, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at the Ohio State University, there are two scenarios that could affect humans. One scenario is COVID-19 could end up mutating in the bodies of deer and create new variants which could then be transmitted back to humans or even other animals. The other is that COVID-19 could stay unmutated in the bodies of deer, and when humans lose immunity to that particular strain of COVID-19, the strain could be transmitted back to humans. So far, scientists have only found evidence of transmission from humans to deer. However, there is still a possibility that deer could transmit COVID-19 to humans.

Do deer get the same symptoms as humans?

Scientists have found that deer do in fact get symptoms from COVID-19, including coughing, and mucous discharge. However, the deer did not show any symptoms of a fever or any other major symptoms.

Can COVID-19 be fatal for deer?

So far, scientists have found that white-tailed deer have very mild symptoms from COVID-19. The deer, however, are very susceptible to the virus, which makes them a concern for future COVID-19 control. Andrew Bowman stated, “It could complicate future mitigation and control plans for COVID-19”. This means that although COVID-19 won’t be dangerous to deer, it could potentially spread back to humans and cause newer and newer strains to show up.

How many total deer cases are there?

Scientists don’t know how many deer have caught COVID-19 in total. However, many scientists have started to test different areas in the United States. Scientists in Northeastern Ohio tested  360 white-tailed deer and found 129 positive cases, which is around 36%. Scientists in Iowa have also tested deer in Iowa and found that 80% of the tested population had COVID-19. Scientists in Iowa have calculated the rate of infection and found out that the rate of infection of the deer was 50 times greater than the rate of infection of humans. However, no evidence of COVID-19 spreading from deer to humans has been found.

 

Links:

https://news.osu.edu/covid-19-infection-detected-in-deer-in-6-ohio-locations/

https://www.mprnews.org/episode/2021/12/01/deer-are-catching-the-covid19-virus-what-does-that-mean-for-humans

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/12/third-ohio-deer-test-positive-covid-19-virus

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#trends_dailycases

https://unsplash.com/photos/lA_TSt-nwlk

https://www.northcentralpa.com/covid-19/the-complicated-case-of-covid-19-and-white-tailed-deer/article_d7f0d01c-6d12-11ec-b7c7-fb939fb46e0e.html

https://wildlife.org/white-tailed-deer-can-get-coronavirus-but-show-mild-symptoms/

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