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Sportsman Outdoors

Deer can carry COVID-19 virus!

Jack Danchak
Posted 8/27/21

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has sent out a news release about the recent reports about the connection between COVID-19 virus and deer, explaining that there’s no evidence deer can spread …

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Sportsman Outdoors

Deer can carry COVID-19 virus!

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The Pennsylvania Game Commission has sent out a news release about the recent reports about the connection between COVID-19 virus and deer, explaining that there’s no evidence deer can spread the virus to humans or that humans are at risk of contracting the virus from consuming venison. However, hunters heading afield for this year’s hunting seasons should take usual precautions when handling their harvests.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said, “COVID-19 has affected us all, and it’s not surprising the recent research that shows deer can develop COVID antibodies has generated interest. But at the same time, there’s nothing to suggest deer hunters or other people are at risk of contracting COVID from exposure to deer. By taking ordinary precautions when hunting and handling deer, hunters help to reduce any disease risk.”

There always are risks associated with handling of wildlife. The Game Commission recommends people avoid approaching or coming into contact with wildlife.

Hunters and trappers also are advised to follow these simple safety guidelines: 1. Do not harvest or attempt to harvest any wildlife that appears to be sick. 2. Keep game meat clean and cool it down as soon after harvest as possible. 3. Avoid the backbone and spinal tissue while field dressing and do not consume brain tissue. 4. Wear rubber or disposal gloves and do not eat, drink or smoke while handling and dressing game. 5. Always wash your hands and equipment thoroughly after handling and dressing game. Following cleaning with soap and water, further disinfection of equipment can be done by applying a 10 percent household bleach solution and allow 10 minutes of contact time. Equipment can then be rinsed with clean water and allowed to air dry. 6. Cook all game meat to the appropriate internal temperature as outlined by food safety officials. 7. Do not consume raw game meat or blood from wild animals.

These longstanding safety recommendations have worked for years to help keep hunters safe and with deer hunting seasons set to begin soon this year, hunters are advised to use precaution.

Recent reports about the connection between deer and COVID-19 virus stem from research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The research demonstrated that wild white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania and three other states tested positive for the antibodies to the SARS-COV-2 virus, meaning that at some point over the past year, these deer were exposed to the COVID-19 virus and formed antibodies as an immune response.

But there is no evidence deer can spread the virus to humans.

Jack Danchak is a longtime sportsmen and spent 30 years as the President of the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, Inc.

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