There is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is circulating among white-tailed deer in Saskatchewan.
Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan, Environment Canada, the Ministry of the Environment and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative put their resources together to create a wildlife monitoring program.
Through the program, researchers including Dr. Emily Jenkins of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine were able to swat 227 white-tailed deer in the province. Four came back positive for COVID-19, representing two per cent of the population tested.
“One of the great things that we have in this province is that our hunters are really used to bringing their deer heads in for chronic wasting disease testing and other diseases. So we are looking to tap into this great program. were able to take swabs from the heads of these deer already present in the province and test them for the SARS-Cov-2 virus.”
The researchers also tested 62 deer that also showed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. This indicates past exposure or active infection.
Cases of COVID-19 found in deer have been reported in Ohio and other Canadian provinces, although this is the first to be reported in Saskatchewan.
Jenkins says that with the virus in deer, it shouldn’t be a huge concern when it comes into contact with humans. She says researchers don’t expect people to get the virus from eating greens directly.
Guidance from the Government of Saskatchewan recommends keeping hunter field attire, quarters, and deer carcasses in a well-ventilated space, such as outside or in an open-air shed or garage, to reduce the potential risk of exposure to airborne virus particles. She goes. As a precaution, hunters are advised to practice regular hygiene protocols when handling wild game, including wearing a well-fitting mask, gloves, and washing hands after field dressing.