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COVID Infections Widespread Among White-Tailed Deer

Over one third of this common deer species have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, a US survey discovers

An analysis of samples collected after the pandemic began 18 months ago has uncovered what appears to be the first evidence of widespread exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in wild animals. The findings, reported in a preprint posted on bioRxiv July 29, came from an analysis of white-tailed deer, a common species found abundantly in forests in the Northeastern US--and increasingly in back yards and golf courses. 

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture tested 385 blood samples collected as part of  routine wildlife surveillance conducted between January and March 2021 in four states: Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. They found that 40% of the samples contained antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which are produced in response to infection. None of the deer exhibited any symptoms, but the data.

Scientists from the USDA said they do not know how deer contracted the virus. It could have been from people, animals or possibly contaminated water. They also have not tested the animals for viral RNA, which could provide a clue on whether deer are a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. 

Check out the article in Nature to read more about this story.