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A possible case of deer-to-human coronavirus infection has been identified in Canada

Canadian researchers believe they have discovered the first-ever case of a deer transmitting the coronavirus to humans, and they warn that broader surveillance of wildlife is needed to prevent further mutations from occurring and spreading undetected.

Bee paper The scientists, published last week but not yet reviewed, said at least one case of Covid-19 in humans can be traced back to the virus strain found in hunted deer.

Biologists have previously found populations of white-tailed deer infected with Covid in the northeastern regions of the United States, as well as in the central counties of Canada† While deer is not usually thought of as a species that can easily transmit the virus to humans, experts have speculated that transmission was possible.

As part of their research, Canadian scientists took samples from hundreds of white deer that were hunted in southwestern Ontario last fall. After taking nasal swabs and testing the lymph nodes of deer, they found that 17 of 298 deer tested positive for a “new, highly differentiated strain” of the coronavirus.

The virus is somewhat similar to the strains currently circulating in humans. Instead the closest genes came to the breed? Samples from people and from you in Michigan two years ago, Twitter Finley Maguire, associate professor at Dalhousie University and one of the article’s authors.

The researchers then compared the genetic makeup of the coronavirus found in deer with cases of the virus found in humans in the area.

The team found a person with a strikingly similar strain to the virus who had been in contact with deer. While the authors said the limited sample data made it difficult to fully understand the genetic relationship between the breeds, the timing and location of infection suggest that deer is the likely source.

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Scientists aren’t sure how deer initially infected the virus, but further study of the variant found in the population suggests that its massive structure means that the ability of the vaccine to escape — the virus’s ability to evade vaccines — is unlikely.

“It’s reassuring that we haven’t found any evidence of transmission, at a time when we were taking a lot of samples and doing a lot of sequencing,” Samira Mubarak, a microbiologist and clinical scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, told CBC News. † “If we continue to do this monitoring, we will get a much better picture of the actual risks.”

Experts have long worried that the virus could infect and then mutate some animals, known as reservoir species.

After reviewing the virus’s genetic sequence, Public Health Canada said there was no evidence that it had spread to humans and that it may have been an “isolated case”.

“Until we know more, people who hunt, hunt, work closely with or interact with wildlife should take precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus,” the agency said on its website.