National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

Invasive Pathogens and Emerging Diseases of Wildlife in the United States

Emerging wildlife diseases have become a high-priority concern in the United States and throughout the world because of the potential for spreading dangerous diseases to humans, because of economic losses associated with livestock morbidity and mortality, and because of the harmful effects on natural wildlife populations and ecosystems. International trade in animal and plant species, human population increases, and reduced wildlife habitat have created a situation in which wildlife species can be considered 'reservoirs' of pathogens dangerous to humans and livestock at the same time these populations are themselves endangered by introduced pathogens. This project addresses several of the most critical issues impacting United States and North American wildlife.

This project is managed by the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI.

Project Tasks:
  • The epizootiology and distribution of West Nile virus in the U.S.
  • Development of epizootiologic models and related analytical support for Chronic Wasting Disease in white-tailed deer and other cervids.
  • Impacts of invasive wildlife diseases and role of wildlife as reservoirs and vectors.
  • National surveillance of the West Nile virus.
  • West Nile virus in waterfowl: Prevalence & susceptibility to experimental inoculation.
  • Experimental investigation of the susceptibility, pathogenesis, and immune response of avian species to West Nile virus.
  • Measuring the effects of West Nile virus on ruffed grouse and American woodcock in Minnesota.
  • Measuring the effects of West Nile virus on wild American kestrel populations in Colorado.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease: Technical assistance to States, Tribes, and Federal Agencies.
  • Biology of CWD prions and factors affecting their environmental persistence.
  • West Nile virus and other pathogens in sage grouse.
Project Research:

For more information on any of the tasks listed above, please contact Gail Moede-Rogall at 608-270-2438 or via email at

Snow Geese
Photo by Milton Friend

  1. Understand associations between host, agent and environment that lead to disease emergence, expansion or escalation.
  2. Identify critical areas for emerging wildlife diseases where control and prevention efforts should be targeted.
  3. Document baselines for wildlife disease patterns and trends so that changes/shifts in disease patterns and trends can be identified.
  4. Increase capability to identify and respond quickly and effectively to emerging wildlife disease outbreaks.

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Page Last Modified: Jun 20, 2018