by Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are abundant in the United States; they can be seen bounding around rural and urban areas in every state except for Alaska. A new survey carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) detected antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in wild deer populations in four states. Meaning that the deer contracted coronavirus in the wild and fought off the infection, reports Dina Fine Maron for National Geographic.
The results are the first to look at widespread exposures of SARS-CoV-2 in wild animals and were published on the preprint server bioRxiv in July. The findings have not yet been officially peer-reviewed.
Previous studies have shown that white-tailed deer are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infections and can spread the virus to other deer in laboratory settings, reports Nature’s Smriti Mallapaty. Until now, it was unknown if infections between deer in the wild were occurring. Mink are the only animals to have contracted the virus in the wild, National Geographic reports. However, cats, dogs, otters, lions, snow leopard, gorillas and tigers have all tested positive for the virus in captivity.