White Tail Deer In PA Test Positive For COVID-19 Antibodies

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ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture found COVID-19 antibodies in wild white-tail deer, meaning the animals were affected by the virus.

Deer were found to be infected with the virus in Pennsylvania and three other states.

And with deer hunting as popular as it is in our region, we wanted to know: what exactly does this mean for local hunters?

“We shouldn’t be surprised that this disease bounces from humans to animals, from animals to humans back to a different animal species because coronavirus is all mammals,” Epidemiologist Dr. Becky Dawson said.

She said there is no way of knowing how the deer contracted COVID-19. It could have been from a human, a rodent or any mammal. we wanted to know the risks of consuming deer meet and hunting.

Dr. Dawson said we don’t have any evidence right now that COVID-19 is spread through our food supply, it’s spread through droplets, but we do have a lot of deer in our area and a lot of hunters. So what should they do before maybe eating venison?

“Make sure that you cook that meat thoroughly to the right temperature so that you can kill off any virus, bacteria, fungus that may be in the meat itself,” Dawson said. “And then really good hand hygiene for all of our hunters.”

She said as hunters clean the deer they need to make sure they keep themselves clean as well just to be on the safe side.

“I don’t think there’s any clear risk from the deer to the hunter,” she said.

Dawson said the real risk is still being in close proximity with other humans and spreading the virus that way.

“The real focus needs to be on how do we stop the spread from human to human because the trickle-down effect will be if we stop spreading it to each other, then we’ll stop the spread back into the animals that we might come in contact with.”

An easy way to do that, according to Dawson is to mask up, get a vaccine and keep a social distance when possible.


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