Study Suggests Coronavirus Infections Rampant in Iowa Deer

By Medscape Staff

November 03, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Widespread infection in white-tailed deer has created concern about the possibility of mutated versions of the virus spreading back to humans.

What to know:

  • A study of coronavirus infections among white-tailed deer in Iowa found that about 80% of deer sampled across the state between April 2020 and January 2021 were infected with the virus.

  • Between November and January, the prevalence of infection in the deer was about 50 times greater than that among Iowa's human residents, according to Suresh Kuchipudi, PhD, a veterinary microbiologist and one of the lead researchers on the study.

  • Genomic sequencing found that the virus lineages circulating among deer at different times correlated with those circulating among humans, suggesting that the virus is spreading to the deer from humans.

  • There is currently no evidence of the deer transmitting the virus back to people, but scientists are concerned that, if this does happen, the deer could spread mutated versions that are potentially more virulent and resistant to the current COVID vaccines.

  • While the study results have not yet been published, deer hunters in several states have been warned to take precautions, such as by wearing rubber gloves and a mask when handling white-tailed deer.

This is a summary of the article "Widespread Coronavirus Infection Found in Iowa Deer, New Study Says" published by The New York Times on November 2. The full article can be found on nyt.com.

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