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Deer hunting season for archers has been open for East Texas hunters for a little over a month and now that rifle season is open hunters should be aware that the deer they're hunting could be carrying coronavirus according to new research.

As hunters prepared for deer season with food plots, getting the lanes cleared out, blinds in the right spot, white-tailed deer have apparently been serving as reservoirs for coronavirus according to researchers from Penn State University. Researchers are notifying hunters and letting them know to be aware that the deer they hunt could contain the virus.

How much of the deer population in the study was carrying coronavirus?

White-tailed deer in the US have been studied for over a year now and researchers have found that when looking at the deer population in Iowa, at least 80% have active SARS-CoV-2 infections. This test was conducted from November 23, 2020 to January 10, 2021. In similar studies of deer from the Northeast and Midwest, 40% of the deer population had active antibodies against the virus. This doesn't necessarily mean the deer have SARS-CoV-2 but have been exposed and they have developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 which could lead to COVID-19.

If we want to continue to be proactive about emerging variants — and not be surprised by one that suddenly pops up — there's an urgent need to continue to monitor SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife, especially in animals that could serve as a reservoir, like the deer. - Suresh Kuchipudi, Veterinary Virologist Penn State University

Is coronavirus transmitted from humans to animals or animals to humans?

These deer are becoming known as reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 as they move about the country. At this time researchers feel there is no direct threat that hunters can contract the disease from deer, but they just want those who are handling them or near them to be aware. As these animals serve as a reservoir for the virus, it will make it harder for us to eradicate it because they are carrying it indefinitely where it could mutate and potentially spread back to humans as a new mutation and possibly to other animals too.

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