Deer to Human COVID Transmission? A first case may have been identified.
Hi guys. on a past episode of my podcast Causes or Cures, I interviewed a researcher at Penn State University who talked about his study into COVID-19 viral spillover into white-tailed deer from humans. He discussed the evidence for it and how viral spillover could happen in the first place. Most importantly, he discussed what it meant for the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and managing it with vaccines and drugs. Everyone realizes that viruses mutate. The goal of vaccination is to build up enough immunity at the population-level so the virus…loses its bite so to speak. But the story changes when the virus finds other species to hang out in and mutate, right? We can’t easily vaccinate deer or control mutations in deer. Once they become a host for COVID-19, the virus can mutate and spread back into the environment. Anyways, it’s an interesting podcast and you can learn more about it and find the link to listen to it here. I think it’s important, because when it comes to pandemic management, people tend to have a very myopic view. They don’t consider how human interaction with the environment and fellow species affects pandemic trajectories and the rise of new, emerging infectious diseases. My capstone project with EcoHealth Alliance had to do with identifying factors, on a global level, that can be used to predict the next outbreak. You can read more about the factors leading to emerging infectious disease in my blog here.
So, we have the story about human to deer transmission on the podcast and now we have a story about deer to human COVID transmission! In a recent Causes or Cures episode I chatted with Dr. Brad Pickering about COVID-19 spillover from humans into other animals, particularly his work on viral spillover into white-tailed deer in Canada, as well as the case he and his team discovered that might be the first, identifiable case of deer to human COVID transmission. He will discuss the unique mutations in the deer viral samples, the potential first case of deer to human COVID transmission (how it was identified and how it might have occurred), vaccine effectiveness against the deer viral samples and what this potential spillover and spillback might mean for managing the COVID-19 virus going forward.
Dr. Pickering is the head of the Special Pathogens Unit at the National Center for Foreign Animal Disease for the Canadian Government. Thank you to the Canadian government for letting him come on the podcast and talk about this topic. ( You can read his original study here.)
I hope you guys take a listen, share the podcast, tell your friends and if you don’t understand something or need more clarity on something, just shoot me a message. I can’t promise an answer, but I might be able to help.
To listen to Dr. Pickering discuss the potential case of deer to human COVID transmission, please click here!
Thanks everyone and see you out there! 🙂