Farm animals can’t spread COVID-19, studies show, but deer can

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OK, so no one was actually doing it, but agricultural researchers have determined that most farm animals are not susceptible to COVID-19 and do not spread the coronavirus, which scientists call the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In the words of Cyril Gay, senior manager of the ARS national program for animal production and protection: “ARS research has clearly provided scientific evidence that eggs and live poultry, cattle, pigs and arthropods (mosquitoes, ticks, flies) were unable to reproduce the virus and become a source of infection for people.

Of all the farm animals studied, only deer were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.

“Interestingly, the deer didn’t get sick, but they quickly spread the virus to other deer,” Gay said.

Gay’s comments appeared in a Tellus article, which provides information on USDA research.

Research on farm animals and COVID-19 began in February 2020 as the pandemic was just beginning to sweep the United States. Studies have been done at National Center for Animal Diseases, in Ames, Iowa, which covered research on pigs, cattle and white-tailed deer; the National Poultry Research Center, in Athens, Georgia; and the Arthropod-Transmitted Animal Disease Research Unit, in Manhattan, Kansas.

While ARS only studied farmed deer, Jeffrey Silverstein, administrator of ARS’s Animal Production and Protection Division, said it is safe to assume that wild deer would have the same characteristics as breeding deer.

In addition to white-tailed deer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that mink and mink farms are also susceptible to transmission of the coronavirus. There have been confirmed reports of mink transmitting the virus to humans.

It was also suspected that the coronavirus was introduced to humans through live animal markets in Wuhan province in China and may be from bats.

But generally, the CDC says there is no evidence that wildlife could be a source of infection for people in the United States.

CDC provides tips for hunters, like not eating a deer’s brains or cutting off its spine.

Pets like cats, dogs and ferrets can become infected, with animals typically infected after their owner or another with close contact contracts COVID-19, according to the CDC, but the risk that animals transmit COVID-19 to humans is considered to be below.

So, if you do get sick with COVID-19, it’s a good idea to keep your pets away from you. But at least you don’t have to put a mask on your cow.


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