The federal government announced on Wednesday that the first three cases of COVID-19 have been detected in wildlife in Canada. These are three white-tailed deer from Quebec, in the Eastern Townships.
According to the information disseminated by press release, “The National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed the first detections of SARS-CoV-2 in three wild white-tailed deer in Canada.” Samples were taken from these deer between November 6 and 8, 2021, in the Estrie region, in Quebec.
Similar to results from the United States, “the deer showed no clinical signs of the disease and were all apparently healthy,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). The World Organization for Animal Health was also briefed on the situation on Wednesday.
As these are the first cases of infections in a wildlife species in Canada, “data on the impact and spread of the virus” in wild deer populations “are currently limited”. “This result underscores the importance of continuous monitoring of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wild animals in order to better understand the possible transmission of the virus between humans and animals,” however specified ECCC.
Recent reports in the United States present evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted from humans to wild white-tailed deer, and subsequent spread of the virus has been observed among deer. However, no case of transmission of the virus from deer to humans has been detected to date.
Animal and COVID-19 data are limited, but indicate that the virus has infected several species globally, including farmed mink, pets (cats, dogs and ferrets) and animals in zoos (tigers, lions, gorillas, cougars and otters).