CHeRI - Cervidae Health Research Initiative

Check it out the new CHeRI Dashboard map!

CHeRI Dashboard Map (click here)

CHeRI August 2020 Newsletter is here if you missed it

CHeRI Newsletter Vol. 5 Iss. 2 - August 2020 (pdf)

Check it out our CHeRI Newsletter from August 2020. Now you can follow the new EHDV and BTV cases in Florida in real time!

Pest Management in Deer Farming: First Steps Toward Best Practices

UF IFAS Blog - Pest Management in Deer Farming: First Steps Toward Best Practices

Dr. Emma Weeks writes about one of our newest publications that will help Florida deer farmers understand better the management of plant and arthropod pests, in a recent post on the Entomology Today blog. "We obtained our information by distributing a survey to stakeholders of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cervidae Health Research Initiative," she says.

Fawning Season is Here!

CHeRI has teamed up with two different vaccine developers to test their EHDV vaccines and ensure that deer farmers have access to products that work. Here are some helpful tips on vaccine safety and best practices.

UF/IFAS is Working Closely with Deer Farms in Northwest Florida

Find out what current projects CHeRI is working on

Like any livestock industry, profit margins in deer farming rely on healthy, productive animals. In Northwest Florida, the primary disease affecting production on deer farms is epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), which causes internal bleeding, pneumonia and death in white-tailed deer, especially fawns. In 2012, an outbreak of this virus caused $32M in losses to Florida deer farmers. In response, the University of Florida created the Cervidae Health Research Initiative.

CHeRI services during the COVID-19 pandemic

UF regards our diagnostic work on deer deaths as essential services. We are therefore able to collect samples on your farm and process those samples in our laboratories. Our ship-in services are also still available. When we visit your farm, we will ensure your safety via social distancing and CDC approved disinfecting procedures. Our Wildlife Extension Veterinarian, Dr. Juan Campos, is also available for over-the-phone consultations. Call the deer hotline at 352-562-DEER to get in touch with us about your diagnostic needs and cervid health questions.

Necropsy of a White-Tailed Deer Tutorial

CHeRI team in partnership with Dr. Katherine Sayler from UF IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation demonstrates the necropsy of a white-tailed deer in order to submit specimens to diagnose EHD and blue-tongued virus.

New CHeRI Publication: Living la Vida T-LoCoH

Living la Vida T-LoCoH: site fidelity of Florida ranched and wild white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) during the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) transmission period (pdf)

Studying movement and space use by ruminant hosts during the transmission season may elucidate EHDV ecology by identifying behaviors that can increase exposure risk. Here we compared home ranges (HRs) and site fidelity metrics within HRs using the T-LoCoH R package and GPS data from collared deer.

Check it out the April 2020 Newsletter!

CHeRI Newsletter Vol. 5 Iss. 1 - April 2020 (pdf)

"We face uncertain times, but I find comfort in the community that Florida deer farmers have built and in their ability to support one another. CHeRI is here to support this community as well, and work to keep this industry productive and sustainable. In this newsletter we provide you with resources to protect yourself and your clients from COVID-19, and update you on the services we are able to provide. Stay safe and keep in touch with us on social media; we could use the company in these times of social distancing! Thank you, always, for your support - Sam (Dr. Samantha Wisely. Director, CHeRI)"

CHeRI saving livelihoods

Our scientists are trying to prevent the next coronavirus in Florida

CHeRI studies the spread of fatal diseases among deer by dispatching field technicians to deer farms to perform necropsies. What Samantha Wisely learns may have future applications if a deer disease makes the leap to humans. Her work shows that we likely still have much to do just to identify the agents that can carry disease. CHeRI has documented four previously unknown deer viruses and three others that were previously not found in deer. Public health risks must be addressed through publicly funded research. With so much at stake, we need public scientists as the early detection corps whose prevention work can stave off future quarantines, panic, public health threats and economic losses.

CHeRI in the right track to control disease vectors

Habitat associations of Culicoides species (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) abundant on a commercial cervid farm in Florida, USA

Very little is known about the larval habitat characteristics of Culicoides species associated with BTV/EHDV transmission, particularly in southeastern USA, limiting the establishment of effective midge control strategies. In this study, we examined the habitat associations of Culicoides species abundant on a commercial cervid farm in Florida, USA and quantified several environmental variables of their habitat to identify the key variables associated with midge abundance. This research is a first step at understanding which habitats are important to the insects that cause disease in deer. Understanding insect habitat needs will help farmers control these insects on their farm.

CHeRI Finds a New Virus in White-Tailed Deer

Molecular characterization of a novel reassortment Mammalian ortheovirus type 2 isolated from a Florida white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawn

As a relatively new livestock industry in North America, many of the pathogens that affect deer production are still unknown or understudied. Mammalian orthoreoviruses are known to cause a broad level of gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurological infections in both humans and animals. This study shows that Mammalian orthoreovirus (MRV) was found for the first time in farmed white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and likely contributed to the death of a 21 day old white-tailed deer fawn that died after producing profuse foul smelling diarrhea. CHeRI scientists have found that the virus present in white-tailed deer is closely related to MRVs of other mammals, such as pigs, mink, bats, and humans.

Update on HD activity from last season

As you can see from the map, it has been an early and active season for bluetongue virus. This virus is closely related to epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and is also transmitted by Culicoides midges or no-see-ums. While we are thrilled that an EHDV vaccine is on the horizon, this season reminds us that we have other impactful disease outbreaks in farmed deer. The good news is that the new vaccine techniques being used on EHDV will very likely work on BTV. As with the new EHDV vaccine, we need samples from your deer that have died from EHDV or BTV to ensure that the vaccines being made will be effective here in Florida. Our necropsy service helps you understand why your deer died and provides us with information to make better vaccines for Florida deer farmers.

Deer and Wildlife Stories with Keith Warren discovers CHeRI's EHD research at University of Florida

Flashback from April 2019: on Deer and Wildlife Stories with Keith Warren, we discover a research program on the deadly deer disease EHD being conducted at the University of Florida. This research will help whitetail deer enthusiasts around the country. Warning! The following video contains hunting and shooting that is educational in nature, but may be offensive to some people. Viewer discretion is advised.


Introduction to CHeRI

Scientists at the University of Florida Cervidae Health Research Initiative, or CHeRI for short, are working together to tackle problems that affect cervids: members of the deer family like white-tailed deer and elk. This initiative seeks to promote interdisciplinary science, education and outreach that increase the health and production of captive cervids in a sustainable manner and promotes the health of native wildlife and the ecosystems in which they live.

Our stakeholders in the deer farm industry have identified hemorrhagic disease as the primary threat to economic success in Florida. Last year deer farmers lost >$32M due to a high prevalence of EHD. More information on hemorrhagic disease and the viruses that cause this disease in deer can be found on our Hemorrhagic Disease Diagnostics page. While reducing morbidity and mortality of captive deer from HD is our primary goal, we seek to maintain a diverse portfolio of projects to improve the health of cervids in Florida.