In a new study from Penn State University, researchers found that up to 80% of white-tailed deer in Iowa may be infected with COVID-19.
They warn that the animals could become a reservoir for variants that could come back to haunt humans.
Previous studies have found a number of other animals are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In the study, the team examined lymph node samples from hundreds of dead deer across the state from April 2020 through January 2021.
There’s no evidence of deer-to-human infection, but the researchers warn deer hunters and others who have contact with deer to take precautions.
The team says if the virus were to become widespread in deer and other wild animals, there’s a chance it could eventually morph into a new variant that could be passed back to people and is resistant to existing vaccines.
There is no reason to believe that the same thing isn’t happening in other states where deer are present.
If deer can transmit the virus to humans, it can be a game-changer. Researchers say that To have a wildlife species become a reservoir after transmission from humans is very rare and unlucky.
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One researcher of the study is Vivek Kapur.
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