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Thursday, March 23, 2023

One-third of Ohio deer test positive for COVID-19 virus

Researchers found SARS-CoV-2 in 36% of white-tailed deer in Ohio, evidence of a deer-to-deer spread, according to a study published late last week. nature,

Although a study last month about similar levels of COVID-19 infection in Iowa deer and Canada reported SARS-CoV-2 in deer earlier this month, the evidence from the new study “leads to the idea that that we may have actually established a new maintenance host outside of humans,” Andrew Bowman DVM, PhD, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at The Ohio State University and senior author, said in an Ohio State news release.

Infection rate up to 70%

Scientists at Ohio State University obtained nasal swab samples from 360 white-tailed deer at nine locations in northeastern Ohio from January to March 2021 and found that 129 (25.8%) had tested positive via real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. ) deer were killed in an attempt to control the population.

Each site was sampled up to three times, for a total of 18 sample collection dates.

Deer in six locations were infected with 3 SARS-CoV-2 lineages (B.1.2, B.1.582, B.1.596—none of which are of concern). B.1.2 Virus, dominates people in the state at the time of testing, deer infected at four sites.

The researchers analyzed the lineage’s evolutionary relationships and found evidence of six human-to-deer transmission events. The authors also note, “Possible deer-to-deer transmission of B.1.2, B.1.582, and B.1.596 viruses was observed,” as they noted mutations of the viral spike protein in some deer samples that Human infections are not commonly seen.

The investigators noted that the prevalence of infection in the nine sites varied from 13.5% to 70%, with the highest prevalence seen in the four sites that were surrounded by more densely populated areas.

COVID-19 may complicate control

“Based on evidence from other studies, we knew [deer] were being exposed in the wild and in the laboratory we could infect them and the virus could spread from deer to deer. Here, we are saying that in the wild, they are infected,” Bowman said in the release.

“And if they can sustain it, we have a new potential source of SARS-CoV-2 coming into humans. That would mean that beyond just tracking what’s in people, we also have to know Will be what’s in the deer.”

Sample collection occurred when more transmissible Delta and Omicron variants were known to infect people, and the Ohio State team did not detect any in deer. Researchers are testing more samples to check for new variants as well as older variants to see if the deer population is, in fact, acting as a viral reservoir.

“The working principle based on our sequences is that humans are giving it to deer, and apparently we’ve given it to them multiple times,” Bowman said. “We have evidence for six different viral introductions in those deer populations”

“This could complicate future mitigation and control plans for COVID-19,” he said of the study.

World Nation News Desk
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