New York Deer Infected With Omicron

Written by on February 10, 2022

According to news outlets a New York deer has sparked concerns after it contracted the highly contagious omicron variant, scientists say, directing the concern to possible COVID-19 mutations.

The new study was performed by Pennsylvania State University in association with the nonprofit organization White Buffalo and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, among other organizations, according to The New York Times. Blood and nasal swab samples were obtained from 131 Staten Island deer. Antibodies were distinguished in about 15% of the animals.

“The circulation of the virus in deer provides opportunities for it to adapt and evolve,” Penn State veterinary microbiologist Vivek Kapur told The Times. “And it’s likely to come back and haunt us in the future.”

Kuchipudi added, “When the virus completely mutates, then it can escape the protection of the current vaccine. So we’d have to change the vaccine again.”

Health officials are starting to advise hunters to avoid deer’s heads and lungs when butchering an animal. “Get vaccinated, wear a mask, gloves, wash your hands, but assume that you could be exposed,” Dr. Samira Mubareka, a virologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute at the University of Toronto expressed to The Times about the risk to hunters.

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