For the first time, the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Canadian wildlife.
Environment Canada says the virus was detected late last month in three wild white-tailed deer in Quebec.
The department says all the deer appeared healthy and showed no clinical signs of COVID-19.
The discovery follows recent reports about the spread of the virus among white-tailed deer in the United States.
No known transmission of COVID-19 from deer to humans so far, and Environment Canada says it remains “largely a human-interest disease and is generally transmitted from one human being to another.” .
Still, until more is known, it says that anyone exposed to deer respiratory tissues and fluids should wear a well-fitting mask and avoid fluid splashes as much as possible.
COVID-19 has infected multiple species of animals, including dogs, cats, farm minks, and zoo animals. But this is the first time in Canada that it has spread to wildlife.
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Deer samples were taken in the Estrie region of Quebec from 6 to 8 November. The National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases confirmed the virus in three of them on Monday. The World Organization for Animal Health was notified on Wednesday.
“As this is the first detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife in Canada, information on the impacts and spread of the virus in wild deer populations is currently limited,” Environment Canada said in a news release on Wednesday.
“This finding emphasizes the importance of continued surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife to increase our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 at the human-animal interface.”
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This Canadian Press report was first published on December 1, 2021.