NC wildlife officials warn that deer may carry COVID-19

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, NC. (WNCN) – COVID-19 doesn’t just affect people. Studies show deer have tested positive for the coronavirus or COVID antibodies. While it’s not clear whether deer can spread the virus to people, North Carolina wildlife officials are urging people in close contact with deer to take precautions just in case.

Deer are all over the Triangle. Most people keep their distance, only snapping the occasional photo. But for anyone who comes in close contact with deer, wildlife officials have a word of caution after studies showed deer in several other states tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies.

“Up to 40 percent of the deer have the antibodies for COVID-19, so they have no way of knowing how they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Humans are the major reservoir carriers of COVID-19, so it stands to reason maybe were the one who gave the deer COVID-19,” said Greg Batts, a wildlife biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

He said it’s not known whether deer can pass the virus to people, but he suggests keeping a distance or taking precautions if you work closely with deer.

“There are people around Raleigh who are probably hand-feeding deer in the backyard,” he said, adding that that isn’t a good idea.

He added that hunters are most likely to come in close contact with deer and noted that they can take extra steps to make cleaning a deer safer.

“If that’s a worry for you, then you need to wear a mask, you need to wear gloves, and then clean up everything with soap and water and disinfectant,” he explained. “Certainly you want to stay away from the respiratory tract, the lungs, and the trachea.

When cooking the meat, he said to make sure the internal temperature is up to 165 degrees.

Batts said that a small number of deer from Caldwell County were tested back in the summer. They tested negative for COVID 19, but there is still a possibility that deer in our state could have the virus.

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