WESTBORO (CBS) – Massachusetts is testing white-tailed deer for COVID.
It’s part of a national program where 41 states are working with the USDA to see if the virus can move between humans and wildlife.
The survey began after researchers found that once the pandemic started, antibodies began showing up in deer.
MassWildlife started testing deer brought in by hunters back in November when shotgun season started. So far, they’ve taken nasal swabs and blood samples from more than 500 deer. It’s not known yet how many have tested positive.
Martin Feehan, MassWildlife’s deer and moose project leader, hopes to have results in about a month or two.
“They’ve been able to find that deer are contagious for about 4-to-5 days. There hasn’t been any recorded cases of deer dying or having any severe illness. But if you think about it, that kind of makes sense,” Feehan told WBZ-TV. “Deer are very aerobic animals, they’re very athletic. So like athletic, aerobic humans, most people who are like that, who are quite healthy, they may get COVID and they may even get pretty severe symptoms, but they general don’t have lethal events.”
Feehan said they may eventually study COVID in black bears in Massachusetts as well.
MassWildlife said there is no evidence at this point that wildlife might be a source of infection for people.
For more information, visit their website.