Canada: First evidence of deer-to-human transmission

Animals, Canada, Coronavirus, Deer, Health, Mutation, Reservoir, Spillover, Toronto, Transmission, Zoonosis

A recent report from Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada, gives details of a highly mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2, and evidence of deer-to-human transmission.

We carried out an observational surveillance study in Ontario, Canada during November and December 2021 (n = 300 deer) and identified a highly divergent lineage of SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer (B.1.641). This lineage is one of the most divergent SARS-CoV-2 lineages identified so far, with 76 mutations (including 37 previously associated with non-human mammalian hosts).

From a set of five complete and two partial deer-derived viral genomes we applied phylogenomic, recombination, selection and mutation spectrum analyses, which provided evidence for evolution and transmission in deer and a shared ancestry with mink-derived virus. Our analysis also revealed an epidemiologically linked human infection. Taken together, our findings provide evidence for sustained evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer and of deer-to-human transmission.


Nature Magazine: Divergent SARS-CoV-2 variant emerges in white-tailed deer with deer-to-human transmission

Sunnybrook Hospital press release



Preprint: Widespread wildlife exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the Eastern United States





Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash