Fish & Wildlife Disease
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USGS is the lead Federal agency for wildlife disease research and surveillance. Our wildlife health capabilities provide research, information, and technical assistance needed to manage wildlife through disease events. Congress and our partners rely on our science to make informed decisions about fish and wildlife disease policy, planning and management.
Deaths of young-of-year smallmouth bass in the Chesapeake Bay drainage has been noted since 2005. Studies of affected fish have found bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. Mixed infections suggest these fish are immunosuppressed. Understanding the role of specific pathogens and environmental factors that contribute to their presence is important but equally important is the understanding...
Low early marine survival rates of Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), the state fish of Washington, have contributed to its dramatic population decline and current listing as a “Threatened Species” under the Endangered Species Act. Determining the cause(s) of this elevated mortality remains a primary objective of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a large US / Canada effort...
Genomic Mechanisms that Underlie Lack of Recovery of Prince William Sound Herring Following the 1990s Collapse
In the decades following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS), it has become increasingly apparent that oil can be toxic at extremely low concentrations to developing fish embryos including herring, where some toxic phenotypes may be apparent during embryogenesis, but some are delayed until later in life. Therefore, acute and lingering oil may act as an insidious selective force within...
Using an approach that involves a combination of field- and laboratory-based studies, we are investigating fish health factors that may be contributing to the failed recovery of Pacific herring populations in Prince William Sound, AK. Field studies are providing infection and disease prevalence data to inform the population models, serological data that indicate the prior exposure history and...
Viruses occur in many cultured and wild stocks of fish. William Batts collaborates with many government, state, tribal, and private research and diagnostic laboratories to aid in identification of these unknown replicating agents of uncertain pathogenicity. Typically, viruses can be replicated in a variety of fish cell lines and investigated at several temperatures to see if the cytopathic...
There has been long history of disease outbreaks and economic losses in wild and farmed carp species due to SVCV. Formerly thought to be restricted to Europe and Asia, SVCV was detected for the first time in North America from diseased koi at a North Carolina fish farm in 2002, and there were extensive eradication efforts with 135,000 fish euthanized in addition to the ~15,000 that died from...
Avian influenza is a viral disease caused by various strains of avian influenza viruses that can be classified as low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). It remains a global disease with potential high consequence with the potential to threaten wildlife, agriculture, and human health.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) serves on the U.S. Interagency Steering Committee for Surveillance for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds to standardize surveillance for this disease and is a leading partner in conducting morbidity and mortality investigations in support of the Interagency Strategic Plan for Early Detection and Monitoring for Avian Influenzas of...
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) provides the following index of wildlife disease information resources as a starting point to learn about selected wildlife diseases. The index includes informational web pages and communications and outreach products from the NWHC. To search for scientific literature, please visit the USGS Publications...
Wildlife Health Bulletins are distributed to natural resource/conservation agencies to provide and promote information exchange about significant wildlife health threats.
The NWHC developed the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership – event reporting system (WHISPers) to increase public awareness of wildlife disease events and promote collaboration and data sharing among wildlife professionals. It is a partner driven tool that provides a dynamic, timely, searchable web-based system for visualizing and accessing data on wildlife disease events...
This application provides an easy-to-use interface for conducting weighted surveillance for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer populations. The first tool called 'Design' is used for planning weighted surveillance activities. The second tool called 'Estimation' is for use after sampling for CWD detection has occurred and no positive cases were found.
National Wildlife Health Center produces quarterly mortality reports, containing information about wildlife mortality events throughout the United States and on occasion across North America.
Biologists working with wildlife may be exposed to a variety of disease agents. NWHC has developed a wallet card that wildlife professionals can carry with them to alert medical personnel about potential exposure to zoonotic diseases. Contact information is provided for the Centers for Disease Control for the occurrence of zoonotic diseases in humans.
List of species affected by H5N1 avian influenza (excel file).
The ability of formalin, PEROX-AID® (hydrogen peroxide), and seawater to kill waterborne Nanophyetus salmincola cercariae was evaluated in vitro. Newly emerged waterborne cercariae survived for extended periods in freshwater, with 50-74% survival occurring in negative control groups after 24 hr. Exposure to dilutions of formalin reduced this survival time, with 0% of cercariae...
Data to Support Efficacy Studies of Injectable Tulathromycin for Reduction of Vertical Transmission of Renibacterium salmoninarum in Spring Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Bacterial kidney disease (BKD) caused by Renibacterium salmoninarum (Rs) occurs nearly worldwide where wild or cultured salmonid fishes are present. Control of BKD is confounded by its two modes of transmission, horizontal (fish-to-fish) and vertical (from female parent to progeny via the eggs). A highly successful BKD control strategy employed in Pacific Northwest hatcheries culturing spring...
Dataset: Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) in Alaska and Washington
Dataset for the publication 'Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) in Alaska and Washington'. This research was initiated in conjunction with a systematic, multi-agency surveillance effort in the United States (U.S.) in response to reported findings of infectious salmon...
The Molecular Epidemiology of Aquatic Pathogens (MEAP)-IHNV Database
The MEAP-IHNV database provides access to detailed data for anyone interested in IHNV molecular epidemiology, such as fish health professionals, fish culture facility managers, and academic researchers.
The NWHC developed the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership – event reporting system (WHISPers) to increase public awareness of wildlife disease events and promote collaboration and data sharing among wildlife professionals. It is a partner driven tool that provides a dynamic, timely, searchable web-based system for visualizing and accessing data on wildlife disease events nationwide.
Waterfowl spring migratory behavior and avian influenza transmission risk in the changing landscape of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway
Avian influenza has advanced from a regional concern to a global health issue with significant economic, trade, and public health implications. Wild birds, particularly waterfowl (Anseriformes), are known reservoirs for low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses (AIV) and recent studies have shown their potential in the spread of highly pathogenic...Sullivan, Jeffery D.; Takekawa, John Y.; Spragens, Kyle A.; Newman, Scott H.; Xiao, Xiangming; Leader, Paul J.; Smith, Bena; Prosser, Diann J.
A snapshot of women of the U.S. Geological Survey in STEM and related careers
IntroductionThe term “STEM” has been used to group together the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to describe education and professions related to these fields. The professional fields connected to STEM education are thought of as engineering, medicine, and computer technology. Yet these professional fields are merely...Aragon-Long, Susan C.; Burkett, Virginia R.; Weyers, Holly S.; Haig, Susan M.; Davenport, Marjorie S.; Warner, Kelly L.
U.S. Geological Survey response to white-nose syndrome in bats
OverviewSince its discovery in 2007, the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats. Ten of 47 bat species have been affected by WNS across 32 States and 5 Canadian Provinces. The cold-growing fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that causes WNS infects skin covering the muzzle, ears, and wings of...Hopkins, M. Camille ; Soileau, Suzanna C.
Infection by Nanophyetus salmincola and toxic contaminant exposure in out‐migrating steelhead from Puget Sound, Washington: Implications for early marine survival
Out‐migrating steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss from four Puget Sound rivers and associated marine basins of Puget Sound in Washington State were examined for the parasite, Nanophyetus salmincola in 2014 to determine whether recent trends in reduced marine survival are associated with the presence of this pathogen. A subset of...Chen, M.F.; O'Neill, S. M.; Carey, A. J.; Conrad, R. H.; Stewart, B. A.; Snekvik, K. R.; Ylitalo, G. M.; Hershberger, Paul
An epidemiological model of virus transmission in salmonid fishes of the Columbia River Basin
We have developed a dynamic epidemiological model informed by records of viral presence and genotypes to evaluate potential transmission routes maintaining a viral pathogen in economically and culturally important anadromous fish populations. In the Columbia River Basin, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) causes severe disease,...Ferguson, Paige F. B.; Breyta, Rachel; Brito, Ilana L.; Kurath, Gael; LaDeau, Shannon L.
High‐prevalence and low‐intensity Ichthyophonus infections in Pacific Halibut
Ichthyophonus occurred at high prevalence but low intensity in Pacific Halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis throughout the West Coast of North America, ranging from coastal Oregon to the Bering Sea. Infection prevalence in adults was variable on spatial and temporal scales, with the lowest prevalence typically occurring on the edges of...Hershberger, Paul; Gregg, Jacob L.; Dykstra, Claude L.
Imperfect pathogen detection from non-invasive skin swabs biases disease inference
1. Conservation managers rely on accurate estimates of disease parameters, such as pathogen prevalence and infection intensity, to assess disease status of a host population. However, these disease metrics may be biased if low-level infection intensities are missed by sampling methods or laboratory diagnostic tests. These false negatives...DiRenzo, Graziella V.; Grant, Evan H. Campbell; Longo, Ana V.; Che-Castaldo, Christian; Zamudio, Kelly R.; Lips, Karen
Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus in Alaska and Washington
This research was initiated in conjunction with a systematic, multiagency surveillance effort in the United States (U.S.) in response to reported findings of infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) RNA in British Columbia, Canada. In the systematic surveillance study reported in a companion paper, tissues from various salmonids taken from...Purcell, Maureen K.; Thompson, Rachel L.; Evered, Joy; Kerwin, John; Meyers, Ted R.; Stewart, Bruce; Winton, James
Virulence of a chimeric recombinant infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus expressing the spring viraemia of carp virus glycoprotein in salmonid and cyprinid fish
Infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) and spring viraemia of carp virus (SVCV) are both rhabdoviruses of fish, listed as notifiable disease agents by the World Organization for Animal Health. Recombinant rhabdoviruses with heterologous gene substitutions have been engineered to study genetic determinants and assess the potential of these...Emmenegger, Eveline; Biacchesi, Stéphane; Mérour, Emilie; Glenn, Jolene. A; Palmer, Alexander D.; Brémont, Michel; Kurath, Gael
Land use diversification and intensification on elk winter range in Greater Yellowstone: A framework and agenda for social-ecological research
Amenity migration describes the movement of peoples to rural landscapes and the transition toward tourism and recreation and away from production-oriented land uses (ranching, timber harvesting). The resulting mosaic of land uses and community structures has important consequences for wildlife and their management. This research note examines...Haggerty, Julia Hobson; Epstein, Kathleen; Stone, Michael; Cross, Paul
Observations and first reports of saprolegniosis in Aanaakłiq, broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus), from the Colville River near Nuiqsut, Alaska
We report the first confirmed cases (2013–2016) of saprolegniosis caused by water mold from the genus Saprolegnia in Aanaakłiq, broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus), from the Colville River near Nuiqsut, Alaska. While this mold is known to be worldwide, these instances represent the first cases in Nuiqsut and only the second instance on a...Sformo, Todd L.; Adams, Billy; Seigle, John C.; Ferguson, Jayde A.; Purcell, Maureen K.; Stimmelmayr, Raphaela; Welch, Joseph H.; Ellis, Leah M.; Leppi, Jason C.; George, John C.
Vaccine effects on heterogeneity in susceptibility and implications for population health management
Heterogeneity in host susceptibility is a key determinant of infectious disease dynamics but is rarely accounted for in assessment of disease control measures. Understanding how susceptibility is distributed in populations, and how control measures change this distribution, is integral to predicting the course of epidemics with and without...Bansal, Shweta; Pettigrew, Melinda M.; Langwig, Kate E.; Wargo, Andrew R.; Jones, Darbi R.; Viss, Jessie R.; Rutan, Barbara J.; Egan, Nicholas A.; Sá-Guimarães, Pedro; Min Sun Kim; Kurath, Gael; Gomes, M. Gabriela M.; Lipsitch, Marc
Aquatic Pathogen Template Database (AquaPathogen X)
Reported distribution of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in North America in 2017: 24 States and 2 Canadian Provinces have reported the disease in free-ranging and captive cervids.
A little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome hibernating in a Virginia cave during late spring of 2016. Patches of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can be seen growing out of the skin (white areas) near the nose and across the folded wing skin of this bat. Spherical drops of water condensation coat the bat's outer fur, a...
Researchers examine a bat (Myotis sp.) to test for the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.
Permanent Site: A2 East Transect; Depth: 12.4 Meters (Feet 40.8); Distance from river mouth: Kilometers 1.8 (1.1 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 4 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14130295, -123.58766124; Site Description: One of our deeper sites at over 40 feet. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud. Seaweeds have returned, mainly bull kelp Nereocystis luetkeana (0:14, 0...
Imagery from temperature-sensing cameras showing bats in hibernation. This new footage suggests that bats who warm up from hibernation together throughout the winter may be better at surviving white nose syndrome, a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus ravaging insect-eating bat populations in the United States and Canada. Locations: Gap Cave,125 Cumberland Gap National...
Scientist taking environmental samples during white-nose syndrome surveillance activities. Lawrence County, OH. August 2012.
Scientist taking environmental samples during white-nose syndrome surveillance activities. Breckinridge County, IN. July 2012.
Scientist taking a skin swab sample to test for presence of Pd. Monroe County, IN. July 18, 2012.
A new USGS Open-File Report outlines findings from a scenario building workshop on a wildlife disease, facilitated by the Department of the Interior’s Strategic Sciences Group (SSG) and led by the USGS.
As wildlife diseases increase globally, an understanding of host-pathogen relationships can elucidate avenues for management and improve conservation efficacy. Amphibians are among the most threatened groups of wildlife, and disease is a major factor in global amphibian declines.
Science for a Risky World: A USGS Plan for Risk Research and Applications – USGS publishes strategic plan for examining risk
USGS explores opportunities to advance its capabilities in risk assessment, mitigation, and communication in new strategic plan.
Hot new imagery from temperature-sensing cameras suggests that bats who warm up from hibernation together throughout the winter may be better at surviving white nose syndrome, a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus ravaging insect-eating bat populations in the United States and Canada.
Studies on the aquatic food web, tree swallows, and the spread of contaminants take center stage at SETAC 2016.
When you’re not dead yet, but aren’t feeling well either, there’s an EarthWord for that...
A new and highly effective approach to control a viral pathogen that affects threatened steelhead trout in an Idaho hatchery is documented in a new paper.