Diseases of Terrestrial Wildlife

Sylvatic Plague

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. 

Why hasn't the US eradicated the plague?

Why hasn

The Black Death caused about 50 million deaths across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century. It wiped out up to half of Europe's population. Its last terrifying outbreak in London was the Great Plague of 1665...

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What is Plague? Is it only a wildlife disease?

What is Plague? Is it only a wildlife disease?

Learn more about plague from USGS Circular 1372. Written for both scholars and the general public, Plague presents information about the disease in a simple, straightforward manner.

Read the Circular

Sylvatic plague can decimate prairie dog colonies (90% or greater mortality rates), resulting in local extinctions and population reductions. USGS scientists are working with partners to conduct field trials of an oral sylvatic plague vaccine for prairie dogs.  This management tool could be used to reduce the occurrence of plague outbreaks in wildlife.




M. Camille Hopkins, DVM, MS, PhD

Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: 703-648-4019