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I’m a hunter, can I catch COVID-19 from the deer I kill?

Deer have been found to contract COVID-19, and now hunters are concerned they may be able to catch the virus from their prey.

In a test completed by Penn State, over 80% of the sample of white tail deer tested positive for the disease between Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021. The sample tested was out of Iowa.

While the deer may be testing positive, experts say there is no evidence showing its transmission between deer and humans.


Back in August the first test was completed and showed deer in four different states tested positive for COVID-19. These states included Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The second test done by Penn State shows that the deer were actively infected, they didn’t just have the antibodies from a previous infection.

While there is no evidence to show the transmission between deer and humans is possible, hunters should still take precautions when handling the deer.


Tips to handling deer and wildlife meat

Wearing gloves, washing hands, and not eating, drinking, or smoking when dressing the animal are all great ways to stay safe.

Wearing a mask could help in a situation where body fluids spray, but in an outdoor setting spreading in a way that would require a mask is slim.

Other tips for hunters include not allowing contact between wildlife and pets or hunting dogs. It is also a good idea to avoid harvesting sick looking or dead animals. Keep your meat clean and cool it down immediately after harvesting. Don’t cut through the backbone or spinal tissue and do not eat the brain. Wear rubber gloves, do not eat, drink or smoke, and wear a face covering while harvesting the animal. When finished wash your hands with soap and water, clean everything that came into contact with the animal, and cook all meat thoroughly. The internal temp needs to be 165 degrees or higher.

Related: COVID-19 is now spreading to deer, which could cause a dangerous mutation in the virus



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