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67 percent of white-tailed deer tested in Michigan had COVID-19 antibodies

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 2:52 PM CDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning that 67 percent of deer tested in Michigan have COVID-19 antibodies.

Despite the presence of COVID antibodies in two thirds of white-tailed deer tested in Michigan, the USDA says there is no evidence people can get the disease by eating meat from an infected animal. But it does leave some hunters worried.

“The only place I’d be concerned if it were transmittable in the meat because I make them very medium rare,” Hunter Tom Kanalas said.

Kanalas is an avid hunter, and he says he’s not surprised 67 percent of the 113 deer tested came back positive for COVID antibodies. However, he’s more concerned about other diseases that deer can carry.

“I don’t look at it as something I’m fearful of, I’m more concerned about chronic wasting disease (CWD) than I would COVID,” Kanalas said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees, saying there’s no evidence animals, including deer, play a major role in spreading COVID-19 to humans.

“I would assume there will be some guys and people that are concerned, I can’t speak for anybody else but In all majority of the guys I know wouldn’t be affected by it,” Kanalas said.

The USDA says hunters can get infected with many other diseases when processing or eating game, and says hunters should always practice good hygiene.

Kanalas told News 10 despite being concerned about eating the meat raw, he has no hesitation of going out and hunting.

“In fact, it might make me hunt even more out there because it’s not always about the harvest, it’s about getting with nature and God. So no it won’t have any impact at all,” Kanalas added.

Michigan’s 67 percent positive antibody rate among deer was the highest of four states tested. The USDA says of the deer that tested positive, there were no signs of COVID-19 symptoms.

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