Mission Areas

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.

AFWA/USGS Webinars

AFWA/USGS Webinars

USGS and the Association for Fish and Wildlife Agencies are co-hosting a webinar series on fish and wildlife disease to keep our partners informed about our current disease research and about how USGS science can support disease management efforts.

View a webinar

White-Nose Syndrome in Washington

White-Nose Syndrome in Washington

A bat with White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) has been confirmed near North Bend, Washington. USGS National Wildlife Health Center confirmed through fungal culture, molecular and pathology analyses.

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News

Hibernating little brown bat
July 5, 2017

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.

Sampling for aquatic invasive species in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
November 8, 2016

Studies on the aquatic food web, tree swallows, and the spread of contaminants take center stage at SETAC 2016.

Image shows a fish in a tank beneath a half-circle shelter
July 11, 2016

When you’re not dead yet, but aren’t feeling well either, there’s an EarthWord for that...

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Wolf close up of eyes
Date Published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

In 1995 and 1996, wolves were reintroduced into the Northern Rockies where they have since established and spread. Within Yellowstone National Park, one of the core protected release sites, the unmanaged population steadily increased to high densities, producing a large wolf population susceptible to infections such as canine parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper virus (CDV) and sarcoptic mange...

Elk on a feedground in Wyoming.
Date Published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

Over the past 20 years, chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Wyoming has been spreading slowly outward from the southeastern corner of the state toward the Greater Yellowstone Area and Wyoming's elk feed grounds, where more than 24,000 elk are supplementally fed each winter.

Bighorn sheep close up
Date Published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

Bighorn sheep populations are often impacted by outbreaks of pneumonia that are suspected to come from domestic sheep and goats.

Cattle Grazing at Sunset in Montana
Date Published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

Researchers at the USGS are working on developing new quantitative methods to study disease dynamics in wildlife systems as well as systems at the wildlife-domestic-human interface. Much of our work focuses on how host population structure affects disease invasion, persistence and control in wildlife disease systems. We tackle these issues with a combination of simulation and statistical...

Elk on a feedground in Wyoming.
Date Published: November 16, 2017
Status: Active

Brucellosis is a nationally and internationally regulated disease of livestock with significant consequences for animal health, public health, and international trade.

Female mallard & young
Date Published: March 14, 2017

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...

Mallard (Anarhynchos platus)
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Male Ruddy duck
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Mallard
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Tracking migratory movements with satellite telemetry.
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Blacklegged Ticks are Lyme Disease Carriers
Date Published: December 5, 2016

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...

Scientist collecting stream data
Date Published: December 5, 2016

The Challenge: The DOI WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) initiative is developing data and tools to help water managers identify current and future water shortages, for humans and for freshwater ecosystems. Fishes, for example, can decline in diversity and abundance when streamflow becomes too low, for too long.  However, ecologists find that effects of declining...

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An Online Database for IHN Virus
July 27, 2017

An Online Database for IHN Virus in Pacific Salmonid Fish: MEAP-IHNV

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.

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)
July 6, 2017

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.

Mallard
March 28, 2017

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. 

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Hibernating little brown bat
2017 (approx.)

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 illustrates the cold and humid air bats need to successfully hibernate.  

August 21, 2015

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) and acid kelp Desmarestia (0:17, 0:58, 1:28 seconds). Feather duster tubeworms are abundant, especially the species Eudistylia vancouveri (0:04, 0:10 seconds), Schizobranchia insignis and Eudistylia polymorpha. Other invertebrates seen on video: two egg cases of the moon snail Euspira lewisii (0:05, 1:05 seconds). Elwha River Nearshore, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington, USA

2014 (approx.)

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 (CGNHP), Lee County, Virginia, USA, and Wyandotte Cave,126 O'Bannon Woods State Park, Crawford County, Indiana, USA.

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Hibernating little brown bat
July 5, 2017

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.

Image shows a fish in a tank beneath a half-circle shelter
July 11, 2016

When you’re not dead yet, but aren’t feeling well either, there’s an EarthWord for that...

USGS logo
September 15, 2015

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.

Issue3.6June2015Thumb
July 6, 2015

Genetic Analysis Finds that Erythrocytic Necrosis Virus (ENV) of Pacific Herring is an Iridovirus That May be Closely Related to Erythrocytic Viruses of Reptiles