“Here we demonstrated that white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), an animal species in which the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) – the SARS-CoV-2 receptor – shares a high degree of similarity to humans, are highly susceptible to infection. Intranasal inoculation of deer fawns with SARS-CoV-2 resulted in established subclinical viral infection and shedding of infectious virus in nasal secretions. Notably, infected animals transmitted the virus to non-inoculated contact deer.
Viral RNA was detected in multiple tissues 21 days post-inoculation (pi). All inoculated and indirect contact animals seroconverted and developed neutralizing antibodies as early as day 7 pi. The work provides important insights into the animal host range of SARS-CoV-2 and identifies white-tailed deer as a susceptible wild animal species to the virus.”