The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting that white-tailed deer can catch Covid-19. Now the Missouri Department of Conservation is investigating to see if the SARS-CoV-2 has affected our state’s deer.
Wildlife Biologist Jasmine Batten says the infection has shown up in four states.
“Last month the USDA did release some results of their research that showed that deer in four states in New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania had antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19. So that was a bit of a surprise because when we think about how the virus spreads you know we weren’t really expecting deer to have a lot of close contact with people,” Batten told Missourinet.
There have been no reports of Covid-19 or its source virus in any white-tailed deer in Missouri, yet. Missouri’s fall archery hunting season opened on September 15.
Batten said, “At this point, we don’t have any evidence that Covid-19 can be spread by meat consumption, so that’s good news. You know there’s no evidence that people are getting Covid-19 from eating food. That’s encouraging as far as consuming venison goes as long as people are cooking their meat to appropriate temperatures and stuff you know there’s probably very little risk there.”
The USDA report says the agency collected about 500 samples from March of 2020 to March of 2021 in the four states and detected the virus in about a third of the samples. The USDA strongly recommends there is no contact between any wildlife and domestic animals including pets and hunting dogs.