NEW YORK (AP) — When New York City’s COVID-19 rates spiked last December due to the emerging omicron variant, humans weren’t the only mammals affected. A study led by Penn State University scientists found the highly infectious omicron variant also hit white-tailed deer on Staten Island. The researchers said Tuesday this is the first study to find the omicron variant in deer or any wild animal population. It was already known that deer can catch COVID-19, after earlier variants were found in deer in New York and several other states. On Staten Island, omicron was detected in nasal swabs from seven of 68 deer tested between Dec. 13 and Jan. 31.
Photo: FILE – A deer crosses Atlantic Drive inside the Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook, N.J., Jan. 3, 2019, in Highlands, N.J. The highly infectious COVID-19 omicron variant was detected in the white-tailed deer population on New York’s Staten Island, according to a study by a Penn State research team. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)