Image: Gary Bendig/Unsplash/Reproduction
For the first time, scientists have identified a case of Covid-19 in humans which appears to have developed after the patient came into contact with an infected deer. The episode took place in Canada and is still under investigation.
Until then, it was a consensus among researchers that Sars-CoV-2 could be transmitted between animals of the same species or from human to animal. The contrary has not yet been demonstrated.
Canadian scientists took nose and lymph node samples from 298 white-tailed deer hunted in southwestern Ontario. Of these, 17 tested positive for a “new strain” of the coronavirus.
After the result, the researchers decided to search for the unique lineage in humans. In the process, they found a person infected with a similar strain who had come into contact with deer, suggesting the virus jumped from animal to patient.
The most curious thing about the story is that the closest genetic relative of this variant came from samples taken from humans and mink in Michigan, USA two years ago. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed by independent scientists and published in a scientific journal. But a preview of the article was published on the platform bioRxiv.
This is an isolated case that should not cause great concern. In any case, scientists warn of the caution humans should take when interacting with wild animals, because the risk exists.
It is not known how the deer contracted the virus that causes Covid. However, like humans, these other species can also act as reservoirs for the pathogen, allowing it to mutate and become more contagious or deadly.