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COVID-19 in Deer

You may not be the type to go hunting for deer, but if you are, you may have to rethink how you are handling the carcass afterwards.

Approximately 40% of wild white-tailed deer in the US that have had serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) have tested positive.

In Quebec, Canada, the testing has been on-going and so far about 2% have tested positive.

Deer do not get sick from the virus, but what becomes important to note is that deer can be a reservoir for the virus where is can then be passed on to people. It also can be a reservoir for new variants to occur.

As Dr. Weese mentions, the disease will become difficult to control if there is an animal reservoir species. He also notes that if you’re hunting deer, you should use personal protective equipment when handling the carcass. Cooking the meat should make it safe to eat (that’s cooking to internal temperature around 70 C).

Since we have no control systems in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our wildlife populations, we can expect that the virus will continue to spread, and likely will become endemic in the wild white-tailed deer population. It's easy to see the disease moving through wildlife population like deer across the US-Canadian border.

As always, every blog post only demonstrates my own personal thoughts, in the moment, and information can change over time.

I'm sure that Dr. Weese will be keeping us up-to-date on his blog Worms and Germs, so I encourage you to keep checking in there.

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