The Canadian Ministry of the Environment reported this Wednesday that covid-19 has been detected in wildlife for the first time in the country. Three white-tailed deer in the Estrie region (province of Quebec) were infected with the coronavirus. The samples were taken between November 6 and 8. So far, they have been the only positive cases in 156 tests analyzed. The ministerial authorities noted that “the deer did not show clinical signs of the disease and were apparently in good health.”
Quebec was the first Canadian province to collect and examine these samples. The ministry stressed that similar work is being carried out throughout the country to monitor the spread of SARS-CoV-2; a task that is carried out in coordination with federal, provincial and territorial organizations. The World Organization for Animal Health was informed this Wednesday of the discovery in the Québec region.
Covid-19 has been detected in different parts of the world among domestic animals (dogs, cats), fur farms (minks) and wild fauna installed in zoos (lions, gorillas, tigers). Canada is the second country to announce the presence of the coronavirus in wild animals. In December 2020, the US authorities reported the case of a wild mink in the state of Utah. The experts pointed out that the genetic sequence of the virus from this infected animal was indistinguishable from those obtained in a nearby fur facility, so the most likely hypothesis would be direct contagion.
A study by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture, published in November, indicated that 40% of 624 samples obtained from white-tailed deer in Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 . Other recent research found that a third of samples collected from animals of this species in Iowa gave positive results.
Canadian environmental authorities noted that US studies provide evidence that the disease has been transmitted from humans to deer and that further spread among deer has been found. “To date, no case of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from deer to humans has been detected,” they stressed. However, they insisted that the best way to protect yourself is vaccination along with the recommendations issued by health experts. “Until more information is available, and as an added precaution, people are advised to wear a mask when exposed to respiratory tissues and deer fluids,” said the ministry, in addition to practicing “good hand hygiene and avoiding whenever possible the splashes or the spraying of the fluids of these fabrics ”.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.