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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336804

Research Project: PREVENTION AND CONTROL STRATEGIES FOR TUBERCULOSIS IN CATTLE AND WILDLIFE RESERVOIRS

Location: Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research

Title: Using white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in infectious disease research

Author
item Palmer, Mitchell
item Cox, Rebecca
item Waters, Wade
item Thacker, Tyler
item Whipple, Diana

Submitted to: Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2017
Publication Date: 5/11/2017
Citation: Palmer, M.V., Cox, R.J., Waters, W.R., Thacker, T.C., Whipple, D.L. 2017. Using white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in infectious disease research. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. doi: no_doi/1494535970305.

Interpretive Summary: Between 1940 and 2004 over 335 emerging infectious disease events were reported. The majority involved diseases affecting both animals and humans. Most were of wildlife origin or had an important wildlife host. There is reason to believe this trend will continue. For that reason, understanding these diseases in the relevant wildlife host is important. This requires using wild animals as research subjects, which are very different from laboratory animals used by most universities and institutions. Using wildlife in infectious disease research presents many challenges, but also provides opportunities to answer questions that are not possible using livestock or laboratory animals. White-tailed deer, elk and red deer are hosts or sentinels for several important pathogens, some of which affect humans. There is a long history of infectious disease research using white-tailed deer, conducted at ever increasing levels of sophisticated biosecurity, demonstrating that this type of research can be safely conducted and valuable insights can be gained. The greatest challenges to using wildlife in infectious disease research include animal source, facility design, nutrition, animal handling and other practices that facilitate animal care and enhance animal well-being. The study of tuberculosis in white-tailed deer serves as a model of one approach to address these challenges.

Technical Abstract: Between 1940 and 2004 over 335 emerging infectious disease events were reported. The majority involved zoonoses, most of which were of wildlife origin or had an important wildlife host. There is reason to believe this trend of increasing emerging diseases will continue. For that reason, understanding the pathogenesis of these diseases in the relevant wildlife host is paramount. This requires using wild animals as research subjects, which are vastly different from laboratory animals used by most universities and institutions. Using wildlife in infectious disease research presents many challenges, but also provides opportunities to answer questions that are not possible using livestock or laboratory animals as models. Cervid species, especially white-tailed deer, elk and red deer are hosts or sentinels for several important pathogens, some of which are zoonotic. There is a long history of infectious disease research using white-tailed deer, conducted at ever increasing levels of sophisticated biosecurity, demonstrating that this type of research can be conducted and valuable insights can be gained. The greatest challenges to using wildlife in infectious disease research include animal source, facility design, nutrition, animal handling, enrichment and other practices that facilitate animal care and enhance animal well-being. The study of Mycobacterium bovis infection in white-tailed deer serves as a model of one approach to address these challenges.