In several states, deer have been positive forMultiple studies show that this is the case. Although it is not clear where the virus was transmitted to the deer, there is no evidence that humans can be infected by the virus.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service collected 481 samples from deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania between January 2020 and March 2021. 33% of the samples contained SARS-CoV-2 antigens.
The service stated that it was possible for deer to have been exposed through humans, the environment, and other deer species.
Similarly, a study out of Pennsylvania State University found more than 80% percent of the white-tailed deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
This was the first direct evidence for COVID-19 in any non-human animal, according to Suresh Kuchipudi a clinical professor of veterinary medicine and associate director at the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory of Penn State.
Kuchipudi is the chair in emerging infectious diseases at the University. He said that the findings have implications on the ecology and long term persistence of COVID-19. Kuchipudi stated that there is potential spillover to free-living animals or to humans. “Officially, this highlights the need to take urgent steps to prevent the spread of the virus to humans and monitor its spread in deer.
COVID-19 can be carried by many mammals, as well as zoo animals.The virus has made many people sick. According to the service clinical signs of illness were not detected in any deer surveyed.
Wildlife officials in Oklahoma tested deer blood samples following the federal study and found that some were positive for COVID-19.
According to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, there is no known COVID-19 risk associated with deer cleaning or venison cooking. The department does have tips on how to handle deer hunting, however, as it is a common practice in Oklahoma.
Handling harvested deer can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections. To do this, it is important to follow the same guidelines as those used to reduce human-tohuman transmission. This includes hand washing, gloves, and masks. The department stated that personal vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife offers similar advice to hunters in the state. Hunters should “avoid handling or eating wild animals that are sick or found dead”, “wear gloves when handling game,” and “minimize contact with the brain and spinal tissue.”
The division stated that “out of an abundance caution for COVID-19,” additional preventative measures include avoiding head, lungs, and digestive tract.”
Other best practices include handling game outdoors or in a well ventilated area, using knives with care to avoid accidental cuts, thoroughly washing hands and sanitizing any tools. Game meat should be cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill pathogens, the division said.
Source: CBS News