New data shows traces of COVID-19 found in wild deer – Community News

New data shows traces of COVID-19 found in wild deer

BATON ROUGE – Potentially disturbing news for the hunting community has surfaced in recent months. RNA specific for COVID-19 found in wild deer blood samples in northern states of the US

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now doing its own investigation with the USDA. They take samples from wild deer in different regions of the state.

“We collected blood from deer harvested by hunters this fall, and we sent those samples to the USDA wildlife authorities for analysis and submission to the lab,” said Johnathan Bordelon, deer program manager for LDWF.

Traces of the virus were first found in states such as Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Experts say Louisiana is likely to follow suit.

“Those results are still pending, but based on other states, we would expect to likely find some presence of COVID in deer here in Louisiana,” Bordelon said.

The presence of COVID-19 does not indicate an active infection, just that the deer were exposed to the virus at some point. Experts say it poses no threat to the deer population as a whole.

“In the case of deer, it’s just something they can contract, but it doesn’t seem to have any ill effects in that species,” Bordelon said.

Experts also added that it’s too early to say whether people should worry about contamination while hunting or cleaning wild deer.

To be safe, Bordelon recommends the usual protocol for handling game, including gloves and hand washing.

“Hunters should generally wash all their hands. They must wear protective gloves when handling or dressing wildlife, not specifically for COVID-19, but for any communicable disease that can be passed from wildlife to humans. So we recommend using the same practices when dealing with deer.”

As for the test results, it is unknown when they will be available.