The Coronavirus isn't just affecting humans. It's hitting animals around the world too. White-tailed deer in four states, including New York have tested positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service analyzed samples from free-ranging white-tailed deer in New York, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and discovered certain populations were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Antibodies were found in 33% of the 481 samples collected from January 2020 through 2021. None of the deer populations surveyed showed signs of any illness associated with COVID-19.

It is important to note that this surveillance was designed to determine the exposure of deer to SARS-CoV-2 in their natural environment. It was not designed to determine whether the deer were replicating and shedding SARS-CoV-2.

The USDA said the discovery was not unexpected. "Given that white-tailed deer are susceptible to the virus, are abundant in the United States, often come into close contact with people, and that, more than 114 million Americans are estimated to have been infected with COVID-19."

Hunters can still eat the meat from a deer that may have COVID-19. "There is no evidence that people can get COVID-19 by preparing or eating meat from an animal infected with SARS-CoV-2, including wild game meat hunted in the United States," the USDA said. "However, hunters can get infected with many other diseases when processing or eating game. Hunters should always practice good hygiene when processing animals."

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