MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — White-tailed deer in Iowa are getting COVID-19 at a very high rate, according to new research.
Penn State University researchers and wildlife officials in Iowa found that over 80% of deer in their samples tested positive for the virus, showing that it’s spreading very rapidly. That’s for samples taken from April 2020 through January 2021.
According to the study, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the COVID-19 transmissions amongst deer in Iowa “likely resulted from multiple human-to-deer spillover events and deer-to-deer transmission.”
Researchers said the findings show the need for a “robust and proactive” approach to understand the ecology and evolution of the virus.
“In principle, SARS-CoV-2 infection of an animal host could result in it becoming a reservoir that drives the emergence of new variants with risk of spillback to humans,” the study said.
In Iowa, deer hunting season is already underway, and hunters shouldn’t worry about contracting COVID-19 from deer. There’s no evidence to suggest deer-to-human transmission, the study said.
Deer with COVID-19 are also safe to eat as long as it’s cooked to an appropriate temperature, the Iowa DNR said.
The DNR did suggest wearing gloves or a mask while harvesting the animal, and testing the deer for chronic wasting disease before consuming it.
Minnesota’s hunting season for deer begins Saturday.
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Source: CBS Minnesota