USDA: COVID-19 antibodies found in wild deer

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — New research from the USDA found that one-third of blood samples collected from white-tailed deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania had COVID-19 antibodies, but is there any reason for concern here in Middle Tennessee?

Barry Cross, a spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) said while the finding may be alarming, there is no need for concern.

“Right now, we don’t really have a concern about COVID-19 in the deer herd in Tennessee. You know that what they found out there is that they did have the antibodies, but without an indication that they were sick and spreading the disease.”

Scientists already know that COVID-19 can spread through animal populations. However, it’s unlikely that wild animals play a big role in the spread of the disease.

According to Cross, “The evidence is that whitetail deer aren’t playing a huge role in the spread of COVID-19. So based on that, and you know, the existing evidence, we don’t believe people will contract COVID-19 from an animal.”

However, that being said, you can catch other diseases from wild deer. So, take care when processing deer in the field. 

“Wear a mask if you’re concerned about COVID-19. Always wear gloves when field dressing, processing whitetail deer. Sterilize equipment when you’re through field dressing and processing the meat, and of course always when you’re cooking game, cook it to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.”

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