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Can I get COVID-19 from a deer?

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Knoxville, Tennessee (WATE) —Even wild deer are not protected from the COVID epidemic, wildlife officials say, but hunters and others who come into contact with infected animals can catch the virus from it. Can you do it?Recent research from More than 80% of Pennsylvania State Universities Among the white-tailed deer sampled in various regions of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021, the well-known SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 was positive.

Researchers cautioned hunters as they suggest that white-tailed deer may become a reservoir of coronavirus. The data showed that more than 80% of the harvested deer were tested positive for COVID-19, although Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, And Dr. Mercy Souza of the University of Tennessee Veterinary School said there was no evidence that deer were transmitting the virus to humans.

“So I think the research that came up raised more questions than the answers actually provided. At this point, there is actually evidence that hunters can obtain Sars-CoV-2 from the handling of hunted animals. There is no such thing, “says Souza.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and given that it is transmitted by inhaling respiratory droplets, the risk of deer spreading COVID-19 to people is low. Currently, there is no evidence that people can obtain COVID-19 by preparing or eating meat from animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, including wild hunted meat hunted in the United States.

TWRA headquarters staff

Souza, UTK’s director of veterinary public health, said this was the second study in which deer were found. System has COVID-19.. The first was from the USDA in August. This study discovered the COVID-19 antibody With deer in four different states, including Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Susa said the work at Pennsylvania State University was different. Testing revealed that the deer were actively infected.

“There, we examined the lymph nodes of hunter-harvested deer and found that the rate of positive PCR was quite high. This actually contained the virus, as opposed to the antibody. It shows that it was exposed at some point, “Souza said.

According to Susa, there are many viruses and bacteria that can infect humans from deer and other games, but at this time there is no evidence that COVID-19 is one of them.

However, Souza and TWRA officials said hunters should still take the following precautions due to non-COVID illnesses that may be caught during deer harvesting.

“”[Make] Make sure you have the right protection in place to protect yourself from exposure to anything, not just SARS-CoV-2, “Souza said. “This includes wearing gloves when actually dressing the animal. Do not eat, drink or smoke while dressing the animal and wash your hands later. That is really important. “

Terry Lewis, a 45-year-old hunter, said he wasn’t worried about catching COVID-19 from a deer. He took all possible precautions while dressing the deer before he knew that the deer could be infected with the virus.

“We are trying to take as many precautions as possible, whether COVID is a problem or not. When harvesting animals, always wear rubber gloves, wash your hands and wash your tools. “Luis says.

Susa said wearing a mask wouldn’t hurt, as fluid can spurt out into the air when dressing animals. However, such spread is less risky when harvesting outdoors.

Lewis said he had no plans to wear a mask as the hunting would take place outdoors.

“Wearing a mask in the woods isn’t very appropriate in my opinion. You’re out in the great outdoors, you’re in the outdoors. There’s no one around,” Lewis said.

Susa said there are other precautions that hunters must take, such as chilling venison to prevent bacterial growth and cooking to the right temperature to kill other bacteria.

Here are some other tips for hunters:

  • Do not allow contact between wild animals such as pets and hounds and livestock.
  • Do not harvest animals that look sick or that are found dead.
  • After harvesting the animals, keep the hunted meat clean and let the meat cool as soon as possible.
  • Avoid cutting the spine and spine tissue and avoid eating wildlife brains.
  • For game handling and cleaning:
    • Wear rubber or disposable gloves.
    • Do not eat, drink or smoke.
    • Please wear a face cover / mask.
  • After handling and cleaning the game:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
    • Clean and disinfect knives, utensils and surfaces that were in contact with hunting meat with soap and water.
      • Completely cook all hunted meat (until the internal temperature rises above 165 ° F).

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