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CHeRI - Cervidae Health Research Initiative

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CWD in Florida

In light of the detection of CWD in Holmes County in June 2023, we have curated a number of resources in our additional resources page. Please check them out if you have any questions.


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.


Free Diagnostic Testing

If you own a deer farm in Florida, we would like to test sick or dead animals that you suspect have Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or Bluetongue. We will provide necropsy results for free and those results will be completely confidential. This effort will help our researchers determine which HD viruses are circulating in different areas of Florida, will provide information on important coinfections that may increase mortality, and ultimately will help us develop new and better vaccines for HD.

If you have a dead or sick animal, there are several ways you can get us samples:

  1. If you work with a veterinarian, we can negotiate a reimbursement rate for providing us with the needed tissues.
  2. If you have a cold room and can keep the carcass cold, but do not want to necropsy the animal, we can send a CHeRI staff member out to collect tissues.
  3. If you would like to collect tissues yourself, you can find a step-by-step necropsy video on our diagnostics page or call our hotline and we will walk your though it.

Please note: If we receive unusuable samples, they won't be tested.

CHeRI Updated 2022 Shipping Instructions (pdf)

To notify us about samples submitted for HD diagnostics or to request a necropsy, please call:



Noteworthy Articles and Infographics for Seasoned and New Deer Farmers

CHeRI describes EHDV and BTV prevalence in farmed Florida White-Tailed Deer

What Is in a Natural Resource Management Plan?

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

How to Necropsy a White-tailed Deer for Sample Submission


COVID-19 Resources

COVID and Deer

CHeRI Director, Dr. Samantha Wisely, recently wrote an informational article about COVID and SARS-CoV2 in white-tailed deer. Read up on the latest info!

COVID and Deer Flyer (pdf)

CHeRI PhD student Savannah Grace created an informational flyer about COVID-19 in deer.


Check it out the new CHeRI Dashboard map!

CHeRI Dashboard Map (click here)


NEW CHeRI PUBLICATIONS

Our latest CHeRI newsletter is out!

CHeRI Newsletter Vol. 8 Iss. 4 - November 2023 (pdf)

Read about what we've been up to since last newsletter!

Vaccine Resources

CHeRI Vaccine Infographic

CHeRI Medgene Labs Vaccine Report 2020 (pdf)

Drs. Samantha Wisely and Juan Campos report on our case-control EHDV vaccine experiment, conducted on a partnered Florida deer farm in the months of September and October 2020.