As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic goes on, researchers are also analyzing everything they can to establish the worldwide impact of the virus. A federal study in the U.S has determined that 40% of the deer they sampled, from the species Odocoileus virginianus, the so-called white-tailed, have suffered the coronavirus infection. This discovery means that the virus has spread from humans to wildlife in the U.S.
More on the study
The federal study took samples from wild deer for zero surveillance and they discovered that the species has ACE2 receptors that allow the animals to suffer a SARS-CoV-2 infection. When comparing the samples with other pre-pandemic ones, antibodies for the virus were found in 40% of the cases. Other tests were conducted and the results indicated that the white-tailed deer have been exposed to the coronavirus in the U.S in 2021.
The white-tailed deer and spread across North America
This species is common in the U.S and Canada and they interact a lot with humans since we share the same habitat. The study is worrying because the coronavirus antibodies found in the wild deer suggest they went through the infection. This means that the deer can continue to spread the virus among their populations, as they are quite sociable creatures. The virus mutates and evolves and it could re-infect humans later on, with a new strain. This new strain could be even more dangerous and contagious than the ones identified so far, such as Delta or Alpha.
Scientists are worried because it is difficult to stop a virus escaped in the wild. It will continue to adapt and infect other species and the new strain might make the Covid-19 vaccine seven less effective than what they currently are. Articles also mention other species that tested positive for the coronavirus. There was a healthy wild mink in Utah and other cases worldwide.