Over 80% of Deer in Study Test Positive for COVID – They May Be a Reservoir for the Virus To Continually Circulate

Researchers found that more than 80% of the white-tailed deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

More than 80% percent of the white-tailed deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The percentage of SARS-CoV-2 positive deer increased throughout the study, with 33% of all deer testing positive. The findings suggest that white-tailed deer may be a reservoir for the virus to continually circulate and raise concerns of emergence of new strains that may prove a threat to wildlife and, possibly, to humans.

“This is the first direct evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in any free-living species, and our findings have important implications for the ecology and long-term persistence of the virus,” said Suresh Kuchipudi, Huck Chair in Emerging Infectious Diseases, clinical professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences, and associate director of the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Penn State. “These include spillover to other free-living or captive animals and potential spillback to human hosts. Of course, this highlights that many urgent steps are needed to monitor the spread of the virus in deer and prevent spillback to humans.”

According to Vivek Kapur, Huck Distinguished Chair in Global Health and professor of microbiology and infectious diseases, Penn State, while no evidence exists that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted from deer to humans, he believes hunters and those living in close proximity to deer may want to take precautions, including during contact with or handling the animals, by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Kapur.

Previous research by the USDA showed that 40% of white-tailed deer had antibodies against the coronavirus; however, Kuchipudi and his colleagues note that those antibodies only indicated indirect exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or an immunologically related organism and did not prove infection with SARS-CoV-2 or the ability to transmit the virus onwards.

In this new study — which posted on the pre-print server bioRxiv on November 1 and will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal — the team examined nearly 300 samples collected from deer across the state of Iowa during the peak of human COVID-19 infection in 2020. The samples — extracted from deer retropharyngeal lymph nodes, which are located in the head and neck — had been collected by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as part of its routine statewide Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance program. The team tested the samples for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA using a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, which provides direct evidence of infection with the virus.

“We found that 80% of the sampled deer in December were positive for SARS-CoV-2, which proportionally represents about a 50-fold greater burden of positivity than what was reported at the peak of infection in humans at the time,” said Kuchipudi. “The number of SARS-CoV-2 positive deer increased over the period from April to December 2020, with the greatest increases coinciding with the peak of deer hunting season last year.”

The team also sequenced the complete genomes of all the positive samples from the deer and identified 12 SARS-CoV-2 lineages, with B.1.2 and B.1.311 accounting for about 75% of all samples.

“The viral lineages we identified correspond to the same lineages circulating in humans at that time,” said Kapur. “The fact that we found several different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating within geographically confined herds across the state suggests the occurrence of multiple independent spillover events from humans to deer, followed by local deer-to-deer transmission. This also raises the possibility of the spillback from deer back to humans, especially in exurban areas with high deer densities.”

Kuchipudi added, “The research highlights the critical need to urgently implement surveillance programs to monitor SARS-CoV-2 spread within the deer and other susceptible wildlife species and put into place methods to mitigate potential spillback.”

Reference: “Multiple spillovers and onward transmission of SARS-Cov-2 in free-living and captive White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)” by Suresh V. Kuchipudi, Meera Surendran-Nair, Rachel M. Ruden, Michelle Yon, Ruth H. Nissly, Rahul K. Nelli, Lingling Li, Bhushan M. Jayarao, Kurt J. Vandegrift, Costas D. Maranas, Nicole Levine, Katriina Willgert, Andrew J. K. Conlan, Randall J. Olsen, James J. Davis, James M. Musser, Peter J. Hudson and Vivek Kapur, 1 November 2021, bioRxiv.
DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.31.466677

The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish and Game Protection Fund, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Houston Methodist Academic Institute Infectious Diseases Fund supported this research.

Other Penn State authors include Meera Surendran-Nair, assistant clinical professor; Michele Yon, research technologist; Ruth H. Nissly, research technologist; Lingling Li, research technologist; Bhushan M. Jayarao, professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences; Kurt J. Vandegrift, associate research professor of biology; Costas D. Maranas, Donald B. Broughton Professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering; Nicole Levine, research technologist; and Peter J. Hudson, Willaman Professor of Biology. Other authors include Rachel M. Ruden, wildlife veterinarian, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Rahul K. Nelli, research assistant professor, Iowa State University; Katriina Willgert, graduate student, University of Cambridge; Andrew J. K. Conlan, senior lecturer in epidemiology, University of Cambridge; Randall J. Olsen, Professor of Clinical Pathology, Houston Methodist and Weill Cornell Medical College, James J. Davis, computational biologist, Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago; and James M. Musser, professor of pathology and genomic medicine, Houston Methodist.

COVID-19Infectious DiseasesPenn State UniversityPopularPublic HealthVirology
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  • AngryPartiot80

    There is an ivermectin panic on the big tech and MSM right now. Massive articles from MSM on Ivermectin trying to push a danger narrative and also negative press on Americans Frontline Dr’s, again, to keep the Covid narrative alive. Just go to the Goog and type ivermectin then look at all the panic news articles. We are over the target. Big-Pharma is panicking. This medicine has been widely used by humans without any problems for 40 years. It’s inventor won a Nobel Prize after 20 years of successful use and after 100 million people were cured of a broad spectrum of problems without any side effects. Get your Ivermectin https://health.p0l.org

    • Clyde Spencer

      You were undoubtedly a snake oil salesman in another life. “… after 20 years of successful use and after 100 million people were cured of a broad spectrum of problems without ANY side effects” Why not claim that it will cure anything? You’re half way there! Does it cure leprosy or the “heart break of psoriasis?”

    • bz84

      The lab data that first suggested ivermectin could possibly be effective against covid was ‘petri dish’ data – not human testing. And it also suggested that the dosing would need to be MUCH higher than what has ever been approved for human use. And there is no doubt that rural people made a run on the stronger version of the medication available for livestock at feed stores etc. – so from high dosing of this drug – to using iodine – and mega-doses of various supplements etc. – its simply amazing what people are willing to risk putting in their bodies instead of the one thing proven to be effective.

  • Clyde Spencer

    “This is the first direct evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in any free-living species, …”

    I thought that it had been confirmed in bats near Wuhan, and possible wild animals in the ‘wet market’ there.

    How did the deer get infected? If it can somehow pass from humans to deer without direct contact, how can we be certain that it won’t work the other way? This is unsettling news. It is rare for diseases to jump species boundaries except for domesticated animals living in close proximity to their human owners.

  • Mark

    Amazing! They will stop at NOTHING to keep us from living off the land. Another scare tactic to force government dependency. Sad times we face ahead…smh

  • Scrotum cheese

    More fear mongering. If we hunt, we need the vaccine. It’s to make all the deer hunters panic into getting the jab. No different than anything else. Animals can have rabbits, doesn’t mean we need to get a rabbits shot. Birds can have various diseases and it doesn’t mean we need to get tested and vaccinated for all of these various diseases.

  • Scrotum cheese

    More fear mongering. If we hunt, we need the vaccine. It’s to make all the deer hunters panic into getting the jab. No different than anything else. Animals can have rabbits, doesn’t mean we need to get a rabbits shot. Birds can have various diseases and it doesn’t mean we need to get tested and vaccinated for all of these various diseases. Let’s go Brandon!

  • Steph

    Now they are trying to scare the hunters that will provide for their families with hunting

  • TM1

    Really, something is serious amiss here, I don’t know any deer that are living in close contact to humans (withing feet), they tend to run away when they see us. So here’s my observation, either the deer are within feet of infected humans, or the Covid is much more infectious than they are telling us. Which is it (ccp Lingling Li)? People, this is pure fear mongering and propaganda, the leftists are just keep this going, we are all going to die!!!! /S I strongly doubt that deer are infected. We need better studies and positive proof!!!

  • MadMagyar

    Somebody forgot to read the Corman-Drosten Report (the so-called ‘test’ yields 97% FALSE positives) https://cormandrostenreview.com/report/
    Mullins himself said the test shouldn’t be used to Dx anything.
    Why do you think the FDA finally withdrew approval for its use?
    Virtually NOBODY has died of anything other than the regular flu or cold. But they ARE dying of the jab.

    Go to openvaers website, take the deaths figure, multiply x 100 (b/c only 1% of cases are reported), multiply again by CDC’s whistleblower factor of 5 (that’s b/c she found out they were UNDER-reporting cases). Result: 9.04 MILLION dead. OF the jab. In the US alone. Also look at the mortality charts on that site, showing days since being jabbed those deaths occured. High rates the day OF, and next day, starting to fall off by half on third day, and so on out for a month – note the comparison to flu vaxx. The chart showing reports to VAERS going back to 1990 should be enough to indicate what’s going on, all by itself – coupled with the fact that ANY previous trial of a single product was stopped when the deaths reached a couple dozen. Should be obvious to anybody what’s REALLY going on, by now.

  • Nipper

    This is nothing but more lies. None of it is based on science. Deer are one of nature’s most beautiful animals and they don’t get in close enough contact to humans to spread COVID. That assumes that they even can become infected with COVID. Let’s examine the testing method, shall we? Malarkey! Fear mongering! BS! A pox on those promoting this! Now, I’ll go feed my deer friends.

  • noneya

    What did they do, catch a bunch of the deer and stick q-tips up their noses?? I knew where this was leading to, No, no, and no the deer are fine!! Liars

  • Patricia Thomas

    The faulty tests that were cited as giving 80% false positives at 35 cycles and above can easily be manipulated to identify any group of creatures or plantlife to carry Covid. This is criminal and I expect the wildlife dept. to protect our wildlife from the genocidal monsters who want to kill off everything on the planet..

  • BettyBee

    I totally agree with TM1. Humans and animals do NOT exchange viruses. As Dr Judy Mitcovits said”It would have to be injected to cross a species. For a virus that has never been isolated Covid has miraculously created variants, and now is crossing species! Don’t fear the deer. If they have the sniffles, they won’t be sharing it with humans!!

  • Anna Smith

    The PCR test has been proven to be a hoax….Kary Mullis (Pulitzer Prize inventor) dead from a virus in August of 2019 specifically stated that it can only isolate genetic material not identify a specific disease. He and Fauci had a long running enmity because of Hiv and other cdc viruses Fauci manufactured. The virus has Not been isolated as a virus. So, now according to Penn State … the deer have it. The similarities of hiv and the newest one are very similar. What test did you use & finally isolate it? And now we have the deer fear. Okay..good job. Thanks swamp people for watching after us because we know how much all of you care about us. Zoonosis has finally been established in our local lives and forests. Thank-you so much.