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Study Finds Deer May Be Reservoir for SARS-CoV-2

More than 80 percent of the white-tailed deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The percentage of SARS-CoV-2 positive deer increased throughout the study, with 33 percent of all deer testing positive. The findings suggest that white-tailed deer may be a reservoir for the virus to continually circulate and raise concerns of emergence of new strains that may prove a threat to wildlife and, possibly, to humans.

“This is the first direct evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in any free-living species, and our findings have important implications for the ecology and long-term persistence of the virus,” said Penn State University associate director for the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory Suresh Kuchipudi.

In this new study, the team examined nearly 300 samples collected from deer across the state of Iowa during the peak of human COVID-19 infection in 2020. Research supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, read this Penn State article.
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