CHeRI - Cervidae Health Research Initiative

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.

New newsletter!

The latest CHeRI newsletter has been sent out! It has lots of information about the upcoming 2nd Annual CHeRI Science Symposium, our new No-See-Um ID Services Project, and a spotlight on our new gap year intern, Sydney! If you want to receive the CHeRI newsletter, send an e-mail to You can find the new newsletter here: CHeRI Newsletter Vol. 3 Iss. 2 - July 2018 (pdf)

No-see-um Identification Services Project (NISP)

CHeRI is pleased to announce the official launch of the No-see-um Identification Services Project, or "NISP" for short! These new midge assessment services will help CHeRI researchers gain an understanding of midge populations across Florida and allow you to learn what midges are on your farm, what they are feeing on, and if they are EHDV vectors. Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is caused by bluetongue virus (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV). It is transmitted by blood-feeding flies called biting midges or no-see-ums and can be an enormous source of mortality for farm-raised deer. This new service involves 5 easy steps: 1) CHeRI sends you traps, 2) You set up the traps 3) Send the samples back to CHeRI, 4) CHeRI scientists ID the midges, 5) CHeRI send you a report of the kinds midges on your farm and which are EHDV vectors. You can even request more collection tubes to see how the midge population fluctuates at different times of the year. Check out the CDC light trap setup video below to learn how to use the traps and visit our Diagnostics and Services page for more information.

CHeRI's Virus Hunters

The CHeRI team has now confirmed multiple viruses affecting Florida farmed white-tailed deer in addition to EHDV and BTV that affect so many Florida farmed deer. The team has identified deer poxvirus in fawns from multiple locations around the state, detected a novel orthoreovirus in fawns, and a new, previously undescribed orbivirus (related to EHDV and BTV) in deer. These viruses were found in animals submitted to CHeRI for necropsy. By providing CHeRI with samples from sick or dead deer, farmers help CHeRI understand the distribution and genetic variability of the viruses that cause EHD and Bluetongue. With this information CHeRI can develop rapid diagnostic assays and aid in the development of efficacious vaccines.

Necropsy Instructional Video

Deer farmers, do you want to necropsy your own deer to send us samples for our free HD diagnostics? Visit the HD Diagnostics tab and check out the new necropsy instructional video, also found below.