The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Wednesday that more that half of the white-tailed deer in Michigan were exposed to SARS CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
Experts believe that wild animals in the US could be a reservoir for the virus, even if it is under control in the population. APHIS collected 481 deer samples in Illinois, Michigan and New York from January 2020 to 2021 for research.
33% of all specimens contained antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, while 60% of Michigan deer were exposed.
The lowest was in Illinois with only seven percent. Next came New York (18 percent) and Pennsylvania (34%).
“There is no evidence that animals (including deer) are contributing to the spread of SARS-2 to humans. Based on the available information, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low,’ APHIS shared in a statement
APHIS is currently studying a range of mammals to ‘identify species that could serve as reservoirs for the virus or host, as well understand its origin and predict its effects on wildlife and the risk of cross-species transmission.
This is the same organization that confirmed SARS-CoV-2 was spreading to wild mink last year, which resulted in millions of these animals being killed worldwide – with Denmark eradicating 17 million alone.
Experts in the US are now investigating animals throughout the country to determine if the pandemic is spreading wild. Samples were obtained opportunistically as part of wildlife damage management activities conducted by APHIS Wildlife Services across 32 counties in the 4 states. These samples were tested at APHIS’ National Wildlife Research Center and National Veterinary Services Laboratories.