Advances in Animal, Human and Ecosystem Health

We strive to develop science-based approaches for sustaining a healthier world. By improving knowledge, understanding and capacity at the interface of domestic animal health, wildlife health, and human health and livelihoods, environmental stewardship can be enhanced today and for the future.

To achieve this, we are committed to the health of individual animals and herds, as well as to building international program and partnerships. Read our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan for more.

While COVID-19 caused a dip in cases at the Cornell Univeristy Hospital for Animals early in 2020, by the end of the fiscal year, visits steadily increased.

CUHA Cases at a Glance

all small and large animal
ambulatory cases in the Ithaca region
in 2019 at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital
Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists

Cornell University Hospital for Animals

Caseload by species

Species Caseload
Canine 16,040
Feline 3,209
Equine 1,290
Avian & wildlife 1,022
Bovine 177
All other large animal 457
All other small animal 1,520
Total (all small and large animal) 23,715
Looking down the empty hallway of the Cornell Equine Hospital, with two people at the end conversing in masks

Caseload by month 

Note the pandemic-induced dip in April and subsequent recovery.

CUHA FY20 cases by month depicted in a bar chart

Caseload by month data table

Month CUHA Caseload
July 2,325
August 2,519
September 2,316
October 2,394
November 2,066
December 1,736
January 2,153
February 1,904
March 1,424
April 999
May 1,666
June 2,213

Clinician kudos

Roberto Santilli, winner of the 2019 CUHA Outstanding Clinical Service Award 

Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital

Caseload by species

Year Total caseload Avian Mammal Reptile
2016 943 546 350 47
2017 1,125 669 392 64
2018 1,338 847 436 55
2019 1,416 852 485 79

The wildlife hospital caseload bar chart for AY 2019, describing the updated numbers in the table above

Close-up of a Brown Hawk

Cornell University Veterinary Specialists

Stamford, Connecticut

  • 0.5% caseload decrease vs. fiscal year 2019 due to COVID-19
  • 140 staff
  • 13 specialists 
  • 16 student externs. Note: All externs canceled from March 2020 due to COVID-19

Cornell Wildlife Health Center

The Cornell Wildlife Health Center was officially launched this year — supported by our new website and a newly formed steering committee — to address wildlife health challenges worldwide while immersing students in unique learning experiences at home and abroad. The center unites wildlife health professionals and other stakeholders from across the college, the university and the world, with a mandate for moving science into policy and action — for developing long-term solutions that benefit the health of people and nature alike.

Cornell Wildlife Health Center homepage screenshot

Outreach and COVID-19-Related Efforts

  • Officially launching the Cornell Wildlife Health Center and website
  • Assisted congressional offices with drafting bipartisan legislation to shut down commercial wildlife markets that pose a threat to global public health as well as biodiversity
  • Published research providing new evidence of virus risks from the wildlife trade and their amplification along the supply chain that could increase dangers for end consumers
  • Provided guidelines for wildlife rehabilitators to mitigate the risk of wildlife under their care getting exposed to SARS-CoV-2

New York State Projects

  • Diagnosis of freshwater fish diseases
  • Promoting non-lead ammunition to reduce the threat of lead toxicity to people and ecosystems, including in bald eagles
  • Addressing rodenticide poisoning in raptors and small mammals
  • Pathogen and species detection using novel environmental DNA techniques

Projects in the Northeast and Other States

  • Chronic wasting disease affecting deer, elk and moose
  • Avian malaria in Hawaiian wild birds
  • Guidelines for wildlife rehabilitators to prevent Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2
  • Developed advanced molecular diagnostics to detect fungal disease in porcupines

Worldwide Projects

  • Improving the coexistence of wildlife, livestock and people in Asia and Africa
  • Investigating the threat of canine distemper virus to tigers in India, Nepal, Indonesia and Thailand
  • Immersing veterinary and undergraduate students in fieldwork, such as in Indonesia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and the Republic of Congo
  • Undertaking emergency investigations of mysterious rhino deaths in Nepal

Learn more about our ongoing projects by visiting our new website as well as our section in last year's annual report.

International Programs

Enhancing worldwide veterinary care with international partnerships

CVM continues to expand its global presence and is working with a number of international partners to strengthen veterinary and public health capacity and advance animal, human and ecosystem health. Institutional partners are in 21 countries, including:

  • Obihiro University
  • City University of Hong Kong Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences
  • University of Ghent

Although COVID-19 has slowed some of these activities, we continue to foster research exchanges through the Joint Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program between CVM and City University of Hong Kong:

City U Ph.D. students hosted at Cornell research labs to date
Cornell faculty actively serving as City U Ph.D. co-advisors

Animal Health Diagnostic Center

Diagnostic services and expert advice for professionals and the public

Accession Type by Percentage

Accession Type Percentage
Equine 48%
Companion Animals 32%
Food & Fiber 15%
Other Species 5%

 AHDC accession type chart for FY2020, with equine at 45%, companion animal at 32%, food and fiber at 15%, and other species at 5%

Accessions by State 2020

State Number of Accessions
New York 85,371
Pennsylvania 13,539
Massachusetts 11,000
California 9,550
Florida 7,623
Virginia 6,446
Maryland 5,597
Missouri 5,507
New Jersey 5,022
Connecticut 4,947
Vermont 4,065
All Other States 50,661
International 4,041
Total Accessions Processed 225,148

Accessions by Species 2020

Species Number of Accessions
Equine 109,516
Canine 61,668
Bovine 30,209
Feline 11,409
Avian 2,701
Caprine 2,612
Ovine 1,160
Cervidae 781
Rodentia 759
Environmental 677
Camelids 655
Porcine 572
Primates 547
Mustelidae 388
Reptiles 380
Cetacea 304
Lagomorpha 256
All Other Species 1,497
Total Accessions Processed 225,148