Can Deer Ticks Transmit COVID?

The American Journal of Medicine, (Bakshi, C.S., et al.) published the pre-proof, “SARS-CoV-2 is Emerging in White-Tailed Deer and Can Infect and Spread Among Deer Mice Experimentally: What About Deer Ticks?” on August 16, 2022. Authors have found that a large number of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the US have become infected with COVID-19. It is believed that this has occurred through reverse zoonosis in which the virus was transmitted to deer from infected humans.  

It is also noted in the study that deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) can be experimentally infected with COVID-19 and that these infected mice are capable of transmitting the virus to the same species.  It is unknown at this time whether deer mice or other mice have become infected with COVID-19 in the wild, though authors cite data that suggest that the omicron variant may have actually originated in mice. 

A question that remains is whether or not the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) can become infected and then transmit COVID-19 to another host during feeding. Currently, only Powassan virus is known to be transmissible to humans through the bite of deer tick in the US. Authors have initiated tick collections in the Hudson Valley, NY, to attempt to answer questions regarding the vector competence of the deer tick and its potential role in the transmission of COVID-19. 


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