Humans aren’t the only species being tested for COVID-19 right now.
Wildlife agencies in several states are testing white-tailed deer for signs of the coronavirus, including Massachusetts, according to WBZ.
It’s part of a program with the US Department of Agriculture to see if the virus can travel between humans and animals, according to the station.
It started after a study found COVID-19 antibodies in deer.
New Hampshire and Vermont have asked to test deer for COVID-19
So far, MassWildlife has collected samples from 500 deer, according to the TV station. It started collecting samples in November, coinciding with the start of the hunting season, according to WBZ.
MassWildlife biologist Martin Feehan expects to see results in a month or two, he told the station.
“We know that at this point, every place that [deer] have been tested, antibodies have been found, ”Feehan told WBUR. “Whether it’s spread among deer populations, whether they get it somewhere in the environment – or any way they get it – it’s spread to deer on a regular basis.”
The idea of testing deer started with a National Academy of Sciences study that noted that certain protein receptors in white-tailed deer and other animals could make them vulnerable to the virus.
Scientists at the National Wildlife Research Center decided to test the theory by analyzing samples from four states and found that 40% had COVID antibodies.
MassWildlife noted on its website that there have been no known cases of deer transmitting COVID-19 to humans.
“The risk of transmission from deer to humans is probably very low due to the outward appearance of the hunt and the short period during which deer are contagious with the virus,” the agency said on its website .
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