Study Suggests That Covid-Infected Deer Could Act As ‘Reservoirs’ for the Virus

Covid-19 can infect both animals and humans. Throughout the pandemic, researchers have discovered that some animals who ending up getting Covid-19 were recently in close contact with humans who also tested positive. An example is when animals in a zoo get Covid, which has happened multiple times.

The question is, once an animal has Covid, can the animal give Covid to a human? Researchers think it’s possible, and they are particularly concerned about white tail deer that are Covid positive.

According to a study published by veterinarians at Penn State, deer are transmitting Covid to each other. During the study, which took place from April 2020 through December 2020, researchers examined the lymph nodes of 283 deer and found that 94 of them had Covid.

Researchers are concerned that transmission could happen from deer to human as well; although, that possibility has not been proven. According to the study’s authors, “Many animal species are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and could potentially act as reservoirs, yet transmission in non-human free-living animals has not been documented.”

Researchers believe the deer population got Covid-19 from humans in the same way zoo animals most likely got Covid – from close interaction with humans. Dr. Suresh Kuchipudi, the lead researcher for the study, told FOX, “Based on the genomic information, we were able to demonstrate that the source of the virus to the deer was indeed human beings.”

Once the virus has jumped from human to animal, the deer study seems to prove that it spreads quickly within the species. Researchers are concerned that the virus might create new variants among deer and then jump back to humans again, assuming transmission is possible both ways. Kuchipudi believes people could get Covid from animals, including deer, since humans are able to get other viruses from animals.

According to the study, “These findings highlight an urgent need for a robust and proactive ‘One Health’ approach to obtaining a better understanding of the ecology and evolution of SARS-CoV-2.” Kuchipudi explained that “One Health” means health officials need to look for solutions to animal and human health problems at the same time. An example of this is giving the Covid-19 vaccine to both humans and animals.

Did you know that animals can get Covid from people? Do you think people can get Covid from animals?