COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The first case of a wild white-tailed deer testing positive for COVID-19 has been discovered in Ohio, raising concerns over whether deer can transmit the virus to humans, and one another.
“I can’t say that’s not ever going to happen, but the likelihood is very low,” said Stormy Gibson, interim executive director for the Ohio Wildlife Center.
When it comes to catching COVID-19, Gibson said people have a far better chance of getting it from their next-door neighbor than a backyard animal.
The white-tailed deer was recently discovered to have tested positive for COVID-19 here in Ohio by the USDA.
“Almost every mammal has been tested or has tested positive for COVID in a laboratory setting, so we knew that deer could get COVID in a laboratory setting,” Gibson said. “This is the first time, that it has been found with a virus, asymptomatic in a wild setting.”
According to Gibson, not only did the infected deer display no symptoms, but it’s more likely the deer caught the disease from humans, rather than the other way around.
So far, there have been no cases of deer spreading the disease to one another, but with hunting season approaching, she said it never hurts to keep yourself protected.
“If you’re out hunting, make sure you’re wearing your proper PPE,” Gibson said. “If you’re out in nature, make sure that you’re enjoying nature but then also coming in and protecting yourself by washing your hands.”
If you have pets, Gibson says the possibility of them catching COVID-19 from a wild deer in the backyard is also highly unlikely, which is why pet owners should follow basic health and safety routines with their animals.
“The biggest thing is even when you’re dealing with your dogs or cats, or anything that’s going inside or outside, or you’re dealing with your domestic pets, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands,” she said. “And that’s just kind of a rule to live by, is wash your hands and make sure you’re staying safe.”