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.
Sylvatic plague is a flea-borne bacterial disease of wild rodents. Humans, pets, and wildlife can be afflicted with this disease. Prairie dogs are highly susceptible to plague and are the primary food source of the highly endangered black-footed ferret, which is also susceptible to the disease. Sylvatic plague can decimate prairie dog colonies (90% or greater mortality rates), resulting in...
Coral disease is now one of the major causes of reef degradation and coral mortality. First reported on reefs in the Florida Keys and Caribbean in the 1970s, black band disease was first recorded in Hawaii in 1994.
Sea stars are dying off at dramatic rates across the West Coast from Baja California in Mexico to Alaska. The wasting disease that is affecting sea stars also is not specific to one species: more than 20 sea star species have been affected so far.
The Challenge: Lyme disease, which is caused by a tick-transmitted spirochete, is the most common vector-borne disease in North America, with about 300,000 cases each year. Most cases occur in the northeastern and north central U.S., with relatively few in the south, even though the vector tick is present in all of these regions. The purpose of this research is to elucidate the ecological...
The Challenge: The susceptibility and pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) has not been characterized in numerous duck species, especially diving ducks (genera Melanitta, Aythya, and Oxyura), some of which migrate across the continental US. The few studies available (on Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula) suggest that they may shed high amounts of virus, but it is unclear...
The Challenge: The genomic revolution is giving wildlife biologists new tools to assess the role of wildlife in spreading diseases that affect human populations. Peptide arrays are a high throughput technology that gives unprecedented breadth and depth of information about the immune system. We are using peptide arrays to assess the immune responses of Chesapeake Bay waterfowl to avian...
The Challenge: In an era when emerging infectious diseases are steadily increasing, human populations are exposed to virulent new pathogens. Insight into the human system can be gained from understanding the variety of immune adaptations of wildlife species. The vertebrate immune system is not static. Rather, it involves in response to the environment.
The Challenge: In December of 2014, a novel strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused an outbreak in poultry on the West coast of the United States. From there, the virus progressed steadily eastward, causing $3.3 billion in economic losses in addition to 50 million chickens or turkeys dying or being depopulated. While the primary mode of spread appears to be via the poultry...
The Challenge: Changes in aquatic ecosystems related to climate change phenomena or other anthropogenically based environmental stressors have significant impact on the dynamics of the host-pathogen-environment relationship, often with surprising results. Therefore, biosurveillance of the aquatic environment for pathogens of significance to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to...
The Challenge: Following outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Eurasia, many researchers have attempted to determine how this virus spreads across the landscape. Unfortunately, prior to this work, most studies on HPAI movements were based on virology data alone, and no information on host ecology. Beginning in 2007, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) and Western...
The Challenge: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAI) of certain subtypes primarily infect poultry, causing disease outbreaks and negative socio-economic impacts on poultry farming depending on the characteristics of biosecurity and the virus strain. HPAI viruses seem to be adapted to artificial ecosystems including poultry farming, free-ranging duck production, and live bird markets...
The Challenge: The health of the abundant waterfowl species of Chesapeake Bay has become a major concern due to the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) across North America and the role of waterfowl as a vector of AI. For decades, the health of the Bay’s waterfowl has been affected by the degradation of water quality and food supply due to industrial contaminants,agricultural run-off, pollution...
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.
Standardization and Application of an Index of Community Integrity for Waterbirds in the Chesapeake Bay
This data set is comprised of five files related to the modification and scoring of Index of Waterbird Community Integrity (IWCI) scores for all waterbirds of the Chesapeake Bay. One Excel file (A) contains a list of 100+ Chesapeake waterbird species and their species attribute and IWCI scores.
Low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild migratory waterfowl in a region of high poultry production, Delmarva, Maryland
This data set is comprised of four files related to the biosurveillance of low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIV) in migratory waterfowl at 22 locations in the Maryland portion of the Delmarva Peninsula in fall/winter of 2013-2014.
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
Field efficacy trials with sylvatic plague vaccine
These data were collected as part of a field trial to test the efficacy of a sylvatic plague vaccine. Treatment and control sites were selected randomly from the available sites at each location. Site pairs were a minimum of 20 acres, (with a few exceptions). Prairie dog trapping took place a minimum of two weeks post-baiting and trapping...Richgels, Katherine; Russell, Robin E.; Rocke, Tonie E.
Early action to address an emerging wildlife disease
A deadly fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) that affects amphibian skin was discovered during a die-off of European fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in 2014. This pathogen has the potential to worsen already severe worldwide amphibian declines. Bsal is a close relative to another fungal disease known as...Adams, Michael J.; Harris, M. Camille; Grear, Daniel A.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center: Advancing wildlife and ecosystem health
In 1975, the Federal government responded to the need for establishing national expertise in wildlife health by creating the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), a facility within the Department of the Interior; the NWHC is the only national center dedicated to wildlife disease detection, control, and prevention. Its mission is to provide...Moede Rogall, Gail; Sleeman, Jonathan M.
Optimizing surveillance for South American origin influenza A viruses along the United States Gulf Coast through genomic characterization of isolates from blue-winged teal (Anas discors)
Relative to research focused on intercontinental viral exchange between Eurasia and North America, less attention has been directed towards understanding the redistribution of influenza A viruses (IAVs) by wild birds between North America and South America. In this study, we genomically characterized 45 viruses isolated from blue-winged teal (Anas...Ramey, Andy M.; Walther, Patrick; Link, Paul Karl; Poulson, Rebecca L.; Wilcox, Benjamin R.; Newsome, George M.; Spackman, Erica; Brown, J.; Stallknecht, David E.
State-space modeling to support management of brucellosis in the Yellowstone bison population
The bison (Bison bison) of the Yellowstone ecosystem, USA, exemplify the difficulty of conserving large mammals that migrate across the boundaries of conservation areas. Bison are infected with brucellosis (Brucella abortus) and their seasonal movements can expose livestock to infection. Yellowstone National Park has embarked on a program of...Hobbs, N. Thompson; Geremia, Chris; Treanor, John; Wallen, Rick; White, P.J.; Hooten, Mevin B.; Rhyan, Jack C.
Estimating the short-term recovery potential of little brown bats in the eastern United States in the face of White-nose syndrome
White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first detected in North American bats in New York in 2006. Since that time WNS has spread throughout the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and southwest across Pennsylvania and as far west as Missouri. Suspect WNS cases have been identified in Minnesota and Iowa, and the causative agent of WNS (...Russell, Robin E.; Thogmartin, Wayne E.; Erickson, Richard A.; Szymanski, Jennifer A.; Tinsley, Karl
Avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds: Infection and population impacts across species and elevations
Wildlife diseases can present significant threats to ecological systems and biological diversity, as well as domestic animal and human health. However, determining the dynamics of wildlife diseases and understanding the impact on host populations is a significant challenge. In Hawai‘i, there is ample circumstantial evidence that introduced...Samuel, Michael D.; Woodworth, Bethany L.; Atkinson, Carter T.; Hart, P. J.; LaPointe, Dennis
The dynamics of avian influenza in western Arctic snow geese: implications for annual and migratory infection patterns
Wild water birds are the natural reservoir for low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses (AIV). However, our ability to investigate the epizootiology of AIV in these migratory populations is challenging, and despite intensive worldwide surveillance, remains poorly understood. We conducted a cross-sectional, retrospective analysis in Pacific Flyway...Samuel, Michael D.; Hall, Jeffrey S.; Brown, Justin D.; Goldberg, Diana R.; Ip, Hon S.; Baranyuk, Vasily V.
Direct detection of fungal siderophores on bats with white-nose syndrome via fluorescence microscopy-guided ambient ionization mass spectrometry
White-nose syndrome (WNS) caused by the pathogenic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans is decimating the populations of several hibernating North American bat species. Little is known about the molecular interplay between pathogen and host in this disease. Fluorescence microscopy ambient ionization mass spectrometry was used to generate...Mascuch, Samantha J.; Moree, Wilna J.; Cheng-Chih Hsu, Cheng-Chih; Turner, Gregory G.; Cheng, Tina L.; Blehert, David S.; Kilpatrick, A. Marm; Frick, Winifred F.; Meehan, Michael J.; Dorrestein, Pieter C.; Gerwick, Lena
Powassan virus in mammals, Alaska and New Mexico, USA, and Russia, 2004–2007
Powassan virus is endemic to the United States, Canada, and the Russian Far East. We report serologic evidence of circulation of this virus in Alaska, New Mexico, and Siberia. These data support further studies of viral ecology in rapidly changing Arctic environments.Deardorff, Eleanor R.; Nofchissey, Robert A.; Cook, Joseph A.; Hope, Andrew G.; Tsvetkova, Albina; Talbot, Sandra L.; Ebel, Gregory D.
High seroprevalence of antibodies to avian influenza viruses among wild waterfowl in Alaska: implications for surveillance
We examined seroprevalence (presence of detectable antibodies in serum) for avian influenza viruses (AIV) among 4,485 birds, from 11 species of wild waterfowl in Alaska (1998–2010), sampled during breeding/molting periods. Seroprevalence varied among species (highest in eiders (Somateria and Polysticta species), and emperor geese (Chen...Wilson, Heather M.; Hall, Jeffery S.; Flint, Paul L.; Franson, J. Christian; Ely, Craig R.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Samuel, Michael D.
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 normal condition that...
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, 0:20, 0:42 seconds)...
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 Historical Park (...
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...
How Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) Got its Name
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.
Genetic Analysis Finds that Erythrocytic Necrosis Virus (ENV) of Pacific Herring is an Iridovirus That May be Closely Related to Erythrocytic Viruses of Reptiles
IHN Research at the WFRC