New York Deer Infected With Omicron, Study Finds


White-tailed deer on Staten Island Found to have a highly contagious Omicron variant It indicates that a variant of coronavirus was first reported in wildlife.

The findings increase evidence that white-tailed deer are susceptible to the virus. The results may raise concerns that deer, which are widely distributed throughout the United States and live close to humans, can become virus reservoirs and potential sources of new subspecies.

Researchers have previously had a virus Widely found in deer in Iowa Part of Ohio in late 2020 and early 2021.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has infected deer in 13 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. I confirmed. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said Thursday. Those animals were infected with an early variant of the virus.

Studies show that deer catch the virus from humans and spread it to other deer, and there is no evidence that animals are sending the virus back to humans. However, the long-term, widespread circulation of the deer virus increases the chances of the virus mutating and can lead to new variants that can spread to humans and other animal species.

Vivek Kapur, a veterinary microbiologist at Pennsylvania State University, a member of the Staten Island research team, said: “And in the future, we will come back and bother us.”

Researchers have also found that one deer with Omicron already has high levels of antibodies to the virus. This suggests that it may have been infected before. Omicron has proven that some of the defenses of the human immune system can be circumvented. If deer are also antigenic, animals infected during early outbreaks may be vulnerable to reinfection.

According to experts, the news that the white-tailed deer broke through the white-tailed deer population was not unexpected.

“That’s a shame, but it’s not surprising,” said Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious disease veterinarian at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

“Omicrons are fairly ubiquitous,” said Dr. Samira Mvareka, a virologist at the Sunnybrook Institute and the University of Toronto.

New researchIs not yet published in a scientific journal, but is a partnership between researchers at Penn State University, White Buffalo, a conservation nonprofit organization, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department, and other institutions.As part of Deer population management researchWhite Buffalo has worked with the city to capture local deer and sterilize some of the young men.

From mid-December to the end of January, field workers collected blood samples from 131 deer captured and swabs of the nose and tonsils from a smaller subset of animals.

Researchers have found that nearly 15% of deer had antibodies to the virus in their blood. This suggests that the animal was previously infected with the virus.

PCR tests on 68 deer swabs also revealed that 7 animals were actively infected with the virus at the time of sampling. PCR tests also revealed that virus samples from all seven deer had a pattern of mutations suggesting an Omicron variant.

Researchers have now sequenced four of these samples and confirmed that at least four deer were infected with Omicron. Omicron rapidly spread to New York City’s population in December.

“The recent waves are spilling over,” said Dr. Kapoor.

Researchers have warned that it is impossible to draw drastic conclusions based on a single deer that is positive for the virus and contains high levels of antibodies in the blood. They could not rule out the possibility that animals developed those antibodies in the process of current infection.

However, scientists said that if the findings were maintained and the deer could be repeatedly re-infected by the new subspecies, there would be an increased risk that the animal could become a reservoir of the virus.

Suresh Kuchipudi, a veterinary microbiologist at Pennsylvania State University, who led the research team, said:

It remains unclear how humans spread the virus to deer. Researchers have pointed out that people can spread the virus directly to animals, perhaps by manually feeding deer in parks and gardens, or indirectly, through wastewater and contaminated debris.

Dr. Mvarek needs to monitor Staten Island deer vertically to determine how the subspecies evolves, whether it spreads to other wildlife, and how much disease it causes. Was emphasized. When infected with a previous subspecies, the deer appeared asymptomatic.

Researchers want to conduct laboratory studies of antibodies detected in Staten Island deer to find out the version of the virus that each animal has infected and how well those antibodies can protect against other variants. I think.

Does Delta infection prevent deer from re-infecting Delta? Do you want to protect from Omicron? Will Omicron infections protect against future Delta infections?

“These are all open questions,” he said. Kurt Vandegrift, a disease ecologist and research team member at Pennsylvania State University. “We are completely new to discovering these infections in the wild, and that’s why we’re getting data, and that’s why we need to do more monitoring. That’s why. “

Meanwhile, researchers have said that New Yorkers shouldn’t be afraid of local deer, but keeping a safe distance from wildlife is always a good practice.

Several states including New jersey When Massachusetts In addition to general hygiene practices, we recommend additional measures for hunters who slaughter animals in the field, such as avoiding the head, lungs and digestive tract. “Vaccine, wear masks, gloves, wash hands, but assume that you may be exposed,” said Dr. Mvarek.

Scientists emphasized that the best way to prevent deer from becoming a reservoir of virus is to limit the spread of deer to humans. Omicron’s discovery in the deer “reminds us that the pandemic isn’t over yet, and is probably a call for action,” said Dr. Kuchipudi.

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