Current research highlights from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center.
Through a comprehensive program involving biomedical and ecological expertise and capabilities, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center is a leader in developing research solutions to the most deadly wildlife diseases, such as avian influenza, white-nose syndrome in bats, and other emerging diseases that have devastated wildlife populations around the world and pose significant public health and economic risks. This includes playing a key role in detecting novel pathogens, developing rapid diagnostic tests, conducting surveillance, and designing methods to control these diseases.
Here we highlight selected current research at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center.
Avian Influenza Surveillance
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) conducts surveillance in wild birds to facilitate early detection and situational awareness for high consequence pathogens, including highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses.
SARS-CoV-2 in Wildlife
As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, continues to spread globally, questions have emerged about the potential for humans to transmit the virus to North American wildlife, its potential effects on native wildlife populations, and the resultant possibility and consequences of establishing a persistent wildlife reservoir. Recent studies have detected SARS-CoV-2 in escaped or wild...
Field trials for testing of white-nose syndrome vaccine candidates
White-nose syndrome (WNS), caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), continues to decimate bat populations in North America, and efforts to develop treatment options have intensified. One potential method for controlling WNS is vaccination of bats with specific antigens to elicit a protective immune response.
Research in response to Florida’s emerging coral disease
Coral reefs are both ecologically and economically important, serving as nurseries for fisheries, protecting the coastline from storm surges, and generating income from tourism. Since 2014, a wide variety of corals have been dying from unexplained causes throughout South Florida with mortalities ranging from North Miami to the Florida Keys.
Development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to support black-footed ferret conservation
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to infect and cause severe disease, such as respiratory distress and death, in mustelids, including farm-raised mink (Mustela lutreola and Neovison vison) and domestic ferrets (M. putorius). This raised concern that the virus may also pose a threat to endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) managed in captivity for breeding and recovery purposes.
Enhanced Capacity for Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Certified Diagnostics at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal disease that impacts populations of deer, elk, moose, and other cervid species caused by an infectious protein called a prion.
Application of a Systems Approach for Management of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin
Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurologic disease of cervids that causes population declines and is increasing in intensity and spatial extent, has proven extremely difficult to manage despite intensive control efforts that have spanned several decades.
Assessing the Ability of Incineration to Inactivate CWD Prions from Carcasses
Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurologic disease of cervids, presents a monumental management challenge, in part because the etiological agent, an infectious prion, is extremely difficult to inactivate and can be transmitted directly or indirectly to hosts. Due to these attributes of prions, proper disposal of CWD-infected carcasses is an important consideration for management agencies to...
Advancing the Use of RT-QuIC for Applications in CWD Management
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an emerging infectious disease that is fatal to free-ranging and captive animals in Cervidae, the deer family. The development of the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay has the potential to transform laboratory research of prions and provide new opportunities for improved surveillance and management.