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World’s first ever cases of COVID-19 in deer detected in USA

World’s first ever cases of COVID-19 in deer detected in USA

The world's first ever cases of COVID-19 in deer have been detected in the USA reflecting the widening spread of the coronavirus.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) on Friday announced the prevalence of coronavirus in wild white-tailed deer in Ohio.

These are the first deer confirmed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus worldwide, although earlier studies have shown both that deer can be experimentally infected with the virus and that some wild deer had antibodies to the virus, according to a statement on the USDA website. 

Samples from the deer were collected between January and March 2021 by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine as part of ongoing deer damage management activities. There were no reports of any deer showing clinical signs of infection.

SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in a small number of animal species worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended, the official statement said.

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The USDA has previously reported COVID-19 in pets and zoo animals including dogs, cats, tigers, lions and gorillas.

While additional animals may test positive as infections continue in people, it is important to note that performing this animal testing does not reduce the availability of tests for humans.

We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals. Based on the information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low.

People with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection, the statement said.