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COLLEGE STATION, TX - Imagine how you would feel if there were
no medicine to help your sick puppy get well? This is how the
majority of deer breeders feel as there is currently no approved
medicine for diseased deer. The deer industry is growing rapidly,
but sadly the right medicine and treatment that cervids (the group
that deer belong to) need is not available. Even veterinary
knowledge on deer treatments is not widely disseminated as there
are less than a dozen veterinarians in Texas with extensive cervid
medicine experience. In a continuing working relationship with
Texas A&M University, the Texas Deer Association (TDA) has
given a second gift to Texas A&M University College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) in order to
further stimulate research and development of treatments,
vaccinations and an overall better understanding of antibiotics,
drugs and dewormers for the white tailed deer. Last year two gifts
totaling $45,000 were given to initiate disease research
There are several reasons why the TDA chose Texas A&M for
this $50,000 gift. Dr. Dick Cain, TDA representative and former
professor at TAMU, and Dr. Don Davis, Associate Professor at the
CVM, have held a close relationship for years. Texas A&M has
been involved in deer research since the 1980's, as well as being
the only veterinary medical college in the state, which makes them
a prime choice for the TDA's research gift.
When asked how the TDA wanted the money to be used, Dr. Cain
enthusiastically replied, "effectively!"
"Treatment protocols for white tailed deer are needed, since
there is very little of that information published for disease
prevention and treatment" continued Cain. "Medicine and treatment
protocols developed for other livestock, such as sheep and goats,
are used for treatment in white tailed deer because there are
currently no medications or treatments that have been approved for
"The two most devastating diseases for white tailed deer are the
EHD and Blue Tongue virus which are spread by gnats" said Cain.
"Many other animals carry the EHD virus without any harmful effect,
but EHD is fatal for white-tailed deer and mule deer. Blue Tongue
is a disease that affects sheep and other ruminant animals.
Approximately 80,000 white tailed deer died nationwide in 2007
because of Blue Tongue and EHD."
Currently, the initial research focus at CVM is on treatment and
preventions for the EHD/Blue Tongue viruses.
"There are no developed diagnostic tests or vaccines for EHD.
The only Blue Tongue vaccines that exist right now are for sheep"
said Dr. Davis. "Diagnostic tests must be validated in every
particular species and this has not yet been done for deer."
Dr. Davis's graduate student, Melanie Smith, has already begun
making progress in blood range research, which is a test called a
"blood chemistry panel" that is a basis check on the overall
physiologic condition of the individual animal.
Smith has collected 450 blood samples from white tailed deer in
17 different counties with money from the previous TDA donations.
All of these samples have been sent to the Texas Veterinary Medical
Diagnostic Lab. By using special software that looks at age,
gender, whether the deer are fawns or adults, captive or have been
put through physical restraint, Smith is able to figure out what
stresses affect the blood values for deer.
"The TDA needs to be able to know what affects the blood ranges
in a particular deer, because the normal values found in a blood
sample for 14 different parameters including levels of serum
protein, calcium, phosphorus, liver enzymes and hemoglobin have not
been established and documented for white tailed deer" said Davis.
"In other words, we need to be able to figure the blood count of a
deer by knowing that he is captive, has been physically restrained
and is two years old. This study is another dire need in the white
tailed deer industry that has been made possible through support
from the TDA."
"The deer industry has been growing so rapidly that it now makes
an economic impact of $700 million in the State of Texas, and two
and-a-half billion dollars of economic impact to the United States"
said Davis. "Texas A&M needs to be at the forefront in
vaccination development for this booming industry."
Even though it seems as if there is a great deal to be
accomplished in the area of cervid medicine, there have been some
recent breakthroughs. The TVMDL, with the help of funding from the
TDA, has just developed a technique to identify individual strains
of EHD and Blue Tongue from samples that were submitted to the
They have also begun making strides in cervid education for
"From the cooperation between the CVM and the Texas Deer
Association, we were able to develop a program on deer medicine,"
said Cain. "Dr. Davis started the first class last year. The class
is on cervid medicine, which includes white tailed deer, moose, and
mule deer, currently is available for third year veterinary
"So far, the Texas Deer Association has been very happy with the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine as they have done what
they said they would do within less than a year," said Dr.
This is the third gift that the Texas Deer Association has given
to Texas A&M for research in deer medicine. Last December the
TDA gave the CVM $39,000 dollars to improve Blue Tongue diagnostics
and to begin finding ways to make vaccines. In March the TDA gave
another $6,500, followed by the most recent gift of $50,000.
"The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences is honored to receive this continued support
from the Texas Deer Association," said Dean Eleanor M. Green. "The
money will be used to open new doors in research for improving
diagnostic tests for white tailed deer. The faculty and staff of
the CVM are truly grateful for the opportunity to help shape the
future of cervid medicine."
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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