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Canada Reports First Cases Of COVID-19 In Wildlife; All Deer 'healthy & Show No Symptoms'

According to the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), SARS-CoV-2 was detected in three free-ranging white-tailed deer in Canada. All deer are healthy.


Image: Shutterstock/ Pixabay/ Representative Image

For the very first time, Canada has reported COVID-19 cases in the wildlife, informed the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). SARS-CoV-2 was detected in three free-ranging white-tailed deer in the country's wilderness on Monday. As per the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, samples from these deer were taken between November 6 and 8 in the Estrie area of Quebec.  

The virus samples have been gathered in southern Quebec at a big-game registration site. According to recent research, the virus has been shown to transfer from humans to wild white-tailed deer in the United States, but there is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 being transmitted from deer to people. However, the deer in Canada showed no clinical symptoms of sickness and appeared to be healthy. On Wednesday, the World Organisation for Animal Health was alerted about the situation. 

'Information on the impacts and spread of the virus in wild deer populations is currently limited'

As this is the first detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife in Canada, "very limited information" is available on the impacts and spread of the virus in wild deer populations, the ECCC said. In addition to this, the current discovery has highlighted the significance of continuous monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife to have a better knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 on the human-animal interface. The ECCC recommended the authorities to take extra precautions, such as wearing a well-fitting mask while dealing with the respiratory tissues as well as fluids from deer and urges to practice good hand hygiene.  

As per the CBC News, out of the 156 samples evaluated so far from Quebec, only three deer tested positive for COVID-19. Quebec has been the first province to obtain and send samples for research, the attempt to track the virus' transmission across Canada. ECCC's Catherine Soos, a wildlife health specialist, said the government expects to receive up to 2,700 samples from deer and other cervids across Canada. 

It is worth noting that ECCC, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Parks Canada, provincial and territorial governments, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), and academic institutions have been working together to find out how SARS-CoV-2 has made its way into wildlife. Further, in a recent development, three cases of new COVID-19 variant Omicron have been identified in the country.  

(Image: Shutterstock/ Pixabay/ Representative Image)

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