UCI News

How did deer get COVID-19—and what could it mean for humans?

Health, Feb. 11, 2022

February 11, 2022

How did deer get COVID-19—and what could it mean for humans?

Oladele Ogunseitan, PhD, MPH, a professor of [public] health at the University of California, Irvine, and UC Presidential Chair, suspects the most likely route of transmission was through wastewater. A lot of the coronavirus is shed out in feces—it goes into the sewer and eventually that sewage can make its way into natural waterways where deer drink, he says. The second theory is that deer contracted the virus by directly interacting with humans. … “They rummage through our trash, eat our garbage, and wander into our lawns. A lot of people want to feed deer — they leave food outside for them or pet them. “Those are all opportunities for human-to-animal transmission and vice-versa,” Ogunseitan said.