Oklahoma deer test positive for coronavirus

White-tailed deer in Oklahoma have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
Credit: Larry Smith

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists have confirmed cases of coronavirus in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the state after taking blood samples this year and last. The finding follows confirmation of the disease elsewhere. A recent study in Iowa found a third of the deer tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, likely due to spillover from humans. An earlier study by the USDA found antibodies to the virus in 40% of wild white-tailed deer sampled in Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.

While there is no known risk of exposure from handling deer and no known cases of the virus being transmitted from deer to humans, the ODWC is urging people to “follow the same guidelines recommended to reduce human-to-human transmissions, such as hand washing, gloves, and masks. Personal vaccination can also greatly reduce the risk of catching the virus.”

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