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New study finds deer are carriers of COVID-19, raises question if they can transmit virus to humans

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Scientists have found white-tailed deer are carriers of the coronavirus. This is according to a new study by researchers at Penn State University.

Scientists assessed 283 white-tailed deer for COVID-19. One-hundred and fifty-one were wild while the remainder were held captive. Of the 283 samples, 33% tested positive for COVID-19.

This raises the question of whether it’s possible for animals to infect people. News 8 spoke with Dr. Wendy Beauvais, assistant professor at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, who says the answer is no…for now.

“The study authors did write that there was evidence supporting transmission between deer as well as from the human population,” said Beauvais. “We don’t have clear evidence that I am aware of that the virus can be transmitted to humans yet.”

Another question remains: Can deer spread the virus to other animals? Again, Beauvais says, that is still a mystery.

But one thing is for certain. Beauvais advises taking all sanitary precautions when preparing to eat deer meat. This includes wearing gloves, washing hands and quickly removing the carcass.