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.
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...
Botulism is a natural toxin produced by a bacterium ( Clostridium botulinum ) commonly found in the soil. There are several types of botulism toxin some of which can affect humans who eat improperly canned foods. Birds get their own kind of botulism (Type C in Hawaii) that does not affect humans. Botulism type C is concentrated in aquatic invertebrates that filter feed sediments or...
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a microscopic parasites called a protozoan. The specific name of the protozoan that causes toxoplasmosis is Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii reproduces in the gut of cats (all members of the Felidae are susceptible). Cats shed the parasite in their feces, and the parasite is ingested by other animals (intermediate hosts) causing disease. Cats can...
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) provides quantitative support and technical assistance to state and federal wildlife managers and partners to better understand or predict the impact of disease on wildlife populations.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) works on developing various disease management tools, including the development of vaccines. Our current work focuses on vaccines for sylvatic plague, white-nose syndrome, and rabies as disease control strategies.
To provide the next generation of wildlife disease tools, that can move past detection and documentation and towards solutions for wildlife disease problems, the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) is developing a suite of new or adapted technology. Primarily, these technologies focus on three areas of improvement in the realm of wildlife disease: prediction and prevention, surveillance for...
Find all required forms, instructions, and guidelines for submitting specimens to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC).
Scientists of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in collaboration with partners have developed risk assessments for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) in the United States and have begun sampling high-risk locations for the fungus.
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is an emerging pathogen capable of causing significant morbidity and mortality in salamanders.
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...
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 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.
The National Wildlife Health Center, with help from partners and support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, organized “Lake Michigan Volunteer AMBLE – Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events” in 2011. The goal of AMBLE was to empower concerned citizens to monitor bird health and beach conditions along the Lake Michigan shoreline, thus increasing knowledge of avian botulism...
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.
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.
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; Che-Castaldo, Christian; Zamudio, Kelly R.; Lips, Karen
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, Andrew 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
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...
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...
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