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.

2nd Annual CHeRI Symposium

CHeRI is pleased to announce that it's 2nd Annual Symposium will be held on August 10, 2018 in St. Augustine, FL in conjunction with the 67th Annual International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association. Find details about the conference here. Details will be announced in the next CHeRI newsletter.

Welcome Dr. Marcelo Wallau!

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Marcelo Wallau as an affiliate scientist for the Cervid Heatlh Research Initiative. Marcelo Wallau recently rejoined the Agronomy Department at the University of Florida as a Forage Extension Specialist (70% extension, 30% research). With an engineer and MS degree in Agronomy and PhD in Animal Sciences, his focus is on forage production and management for beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, and deer, and on integrated crop-livestock systems. Coming from a farming background in southern Brazil, Dr. Wallau’s interests are on the big picture of the production systems, searching for solutions for daily questions from our farmers with a deep scientific base and global perspective. He also has worked on grassland ecology, modeling and foraging behavior, and on feral hog management and control. You can view his Research Gate Profile here. His CV is available here. Below are several of his papers concerning deer food plots. Welcome to the team, Dr. Wallau!

2017 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida

Forage Planting and Establishment Methods on Prepared Seedbed

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.