Deer test positive for COVID-19 in the United States, first case

Young deer with beautiful ears that are up looks straight into the camera, scared eyes, in the woods
Young deer in Texas, photo: Scott Carroll on Unsplash

Wild white-tailed deer in the state of Ohio contracted COVID-19, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement on Friday.

This is the first reported case worldwide of deer testing positive for coronavirus. The animals showed no symptoms of infection, according to the USDA.

The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine collected samples from the infected deer in Ohio as part of ongoing studies. The samples were positive for COVID-19 in university tests, and the cases were confirmed at USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, according to the statement.

“We do not know how the deer were exposed to SARS-CoV-2,” USDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole told Reuters. “It’s possible they were exposed through people, the environment, other deer, or another animal species.”

The USDA has previously reported COVID-19 in animals including dogs, cats, tigers, lions, snow leopards, otters, gorillas and mink. Most animal infections were reported in animals that had close contact with a human with COVID-19, according to the USDA.


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