Many deer across Pa. are infected with COVID-19, study shows

Written by on March 16, 2022

Many deer across Pa. are infected with COVID-19, study shows

By Anthony Orozko
March 16, 2022

COVID positivity rates are much higher among deer than humans, scientists say. (Photo | File)

Nearly 20% of roadkill deer in the commonwealth died with COVID-19, according to a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Scientists are finding variants within wild animals in the US and abroad. 

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The study shows the deer population has a positivity rate that is around seven times higher than the 3-percent infection rate of humans, NPR reports. 

That study is yet to be reviewed by peers. It tested deer that were killed on roadways, not by the disease. 

Another study set to be reviewed showed that deer in Ontario are carrying dozens of variants of the virus. 

That Canadian study also suggests strains have mutated in deer and then jumped back into the human population. 

Scientists say deer variants appear to be neutralized when tested in the blood of vaccinated people.

Researchers are unsure as to how the virus jumped to deer populations, but they suspect the respiratory disease spread quickly because deer touch noses as a greeting. 

Some suggest that it came from humans directly feeding wild deer or a less likely hypothesis that deer caught it via human wastewater. 

It is also possible deer may have caught it through other animals such as mice. 

The study’s authors say scientists don’t fully understand the risks of having a reserve of the virus in wild animals. 

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