Simple Ways to Avoid Public Exposures to Infectious Wildlife Diseases Summarized

Science Center Objects

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other disease specialists, have published reports during the past 12 years with information about the geographic distribution of diseases, specific pathogens, disease ecology, and strategies to avoid human exposure and infection for seven zoonotic diseases.

Image: Prairie Dog Released from Trap

A prairie dog runs back to its burrow in Wind Cave National park, South Dakota, after being released from a trap.  The prairie dog is part of a field test t determine the effectiveness of an oral sylvatic plague vaccine that was developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists.  Photograph credit: Marisa Lubeck, USGS.

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed from animals to humans, such as rabies and plague. Preventing these diseases in humans can often be achieved through education and avoidance of direct contact with wildlife or with wildlife feces and urine.

The USGS and the USFWS, in collaboration with other government and nongovernment disease specialists, published information circulars about seven zoonotic diseases and a summary fact sheet highlighting three diseases (plague, bat rabies, and raccoon roundworm). The publications provide information about the geographic distribution of the diseases, specific pathogens, disease ecology, and strategies to avoid human exposure and infection for each zoonotic disease.

The USGS provides the science needed to economically and effectively minimize the risk from pathogens to the health of fish, wildlife, livestock, companion animals, and humans. USGS scientists in the Ecological Pathways Team of the USGS Environmental Health Mission Area work to identify the movement of contaminants and pathogens through the environment and their ultimate toxicity to humans and animals.