On Saturday, August 27, the United States government confirmed that the first-ever registered case of a deer infected with the COVID-19 virus has been registered, adding it to the list of animal species that have already tested positive.
More precisely, according to the statement released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused COVID-19 have been discovered in white-tailed deer in the state of Ohio.
However, as per the same government department, the deer did not show any active symptoms of infection and it is also unclear how they became infected in the first place.
A spokeswoman for the USDA, Lyndsay Cole, later told Reuters in an email that: “We don’t know how the deer were exposed to SARS-CoV-2. It is possible that they were exposed through people, environment, other deer, or other animal species.”
As mentioned before, these are not the first discovered cases amongst animals up to this point.
Other animals previously reported to have contracted COVID-19 are cats, dogs, lions, tigers, otters, gorillas, snow leopards and minks.
The agency mentioned that, based on all international reports, it has become apparent that most positive tests have happened in the case of species that are often in contact with people – mostly pets.
Last month, the USDA reported that the deer populations in various areas of the United States had been exposed to the virus after a study analyzed serum samples from wild deer for antibodies.
The samples from infected deer were then collected by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine starting with the month of January and up until the month of March as part of a scientific study.
USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories later tested all the samples and confirmed the University’s previous suspicions that the white-tailed deer were infected with the COVID-19 virus.