Omicron is considered to be the most dangerous variant of the coronavirus because of its high transmissibility. While it has already infected lakhs of people across the globe, experts advise that following norms of social distancing are still important. This is mainly because new subvariants of Omicron have been discovered in several countries. But now, a new development has worried the researchers and scientists. They have found white-tailed deer of Staten Island infected with the Omicron. What is worrying is that there are over 30 million of these animals and they usually come in contact with humans.
Earlier in late 2020, it was reported that the coronavirus was widespread in deer in Iowa and then in early 2021 in some parts of Ohio. According to a report in New York Times, around 60 per cent of deer killed by hunters or cars in 2020 were found to be infected with the coronavirus.
“It was stunning,” Vivek Kapur, a microbiologist and infectious disease expert at the Pennsylvania State University, was quoted as saying by NYT. “It’s completely mad. It looks like it’s everywhere,” he said after his team analysed samples from 4,000 dead deer so far and marked the location of each infected animal on a map.
This is a cause of concern because adaptation in animals is one route by which new variants are likely to emerge.
“This is a top concern right now for the United States,” Dr Casey Barton Behravesh, who directs the One Health Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the New York Times.
The first case of a deer being infected with the coronavirus was reported back in August last year. But the discovery of deer being infected with Omicron has renewed concerns about a new wave of infection. However, this is not the first time when animals have been infected with the coronavirus. Animals including dogs, cats, gorillas, lions, tigers and minks have been earlier infected with the virus.