Elk Research Foundation

Project 1602 - Characterization of Hemorrhagic Disease and Vaccine Efficacy in Captive Elk

Prior to 2009 the elk industry had not seen significant mortality in animals associated with hemorrhagic disease caused by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV) and Bluetongue Virus (BTV). Outbreaks of EHDV have since been regularly observed in both captive and free-ranging herds of elk.

Very little is known about the variation in viral strains from year to year, yet understanding strain variation is an important component of vaccine development, particularly for a disease caused by a complex set of virus strains. ERC Project 1602's goal was to understand the strains of HD that are causing mortality in captive elk herds and the efficacy of commercially available autogenous vaccines for HD.

For this project, the Elk Research Council partnered with the University of Florida conduct studies on several ranches at different stages in 2016.

Tissues were harvested from animals suspected to have died from HD at specific ranches to determine the strain and genotype of EHDV or BTV present in the tissues. Collecting and identifying the strains of HD and bacteria circulating in 2016 will help in the formulation of an vaccine.

The results showed there is still much to learn about EHD/BTV in elk and the importance of timely diagnostics upon any suspicious elk death.

Please click here for summary sheet on Project 1602

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