Deer may harbor old SARS-CoV-2 strains, research suggests

With the Biden administration's plan to end the COVID-19 emergency declaration this coming May, the coronavirus — in some ways — shows signs of slowing, at least for now. It's likely to become something U.S. health officials treat similarly to the flu, experts say.

However, two COVID-19 variants, alpha and gamma, are continuing to infect populations of white-tailed deer. Last spring, residents of Michigan who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, were traced to mink infections, marking the first known animal-to-human spillover of the virus. 

Only months later, a report detailed just how prevalent COVID-19 cases were found to be in white-tailed deer — which are the most populous large mammal found in North America — signifying the virus's mutation strength. 

"The impact of these mutations on the transmissibility of the virus between WTD and from WTD to humans remains to be determined," researchers wrote.  

Although the alpha and gamma strains are not the main one currently infecting humans, the findings suggest that deer "may serve as a reservoir for variant SARS-CoV-2 strains that no longer circulate in the human population."

Concern around reservoir cases of different strains remaining in a population of mammals is mainly about the potential for further mutation and possible — if any — chance of reinfection to humans, The New York Times reported.


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars