What is WHISPers?
What does WHISPers do?
What is a wildlife "event"?
Who can use WHISPers information?
Anyone! Basic summary information in WHISPers is provided for anyone interested in knowing more about where wildlife disease has been confirmed. This information is of particular interest for natural resource managers who need timely situational awareness of wildlife mortality and morbidity events. Knowledge of recent and ongoing events affords these professionals the opportunity to (1) proactively monitor for disease in their jurisdiction and (2) prepare for and appropriately manage these events.
Information on citing WHISPers data is listed below.
Is this a citizen science reporting mechanism?
What do the colored circles on the map mean?
Why are there many events in some places and no events in others?
The information in WHISPers is collected opportunistically. Sick or dead animals must be observed, collected, submitted to a diagnostic laboratory, and the information shared in WHISPers in order to appear on the map and in the associated database. Not every mortality event that occurs is observed, diagnosed, or reported to WHISPers. Observation and reporting are more likely in very populated areas and less likely in sparsely populated locations. Some diseases, such as avian botulism, can occur repeatedly in a location. A blank space on the map doesn’t mean wildlife disease has not occurred in that location.
Wildlife agencies, diagnostic laboratories, and other organizations have vast knowledge of mortality events in their area but there are technological challenges to sharing the information. A long-term goal for WHISPers is to grow the partnership and make it easier for data to be shared.
Why aren't all the species diagnoses listed as event diagnoses?
WHISPers has diagnoses listed at the species level, documenting diagnostic findings in specimens of a particular species at a particular location. Some diagnosis may be an interesting finding in the specific animal tested, but not a likely cause of death.
WHISPers also has event level diagnoses that include all the causes of death for the event.
Event level diagnoses are listed on the main table view of data (e.g., on the home page or in the table that results from a search), whereas species level diagnoses can be found by clicking on a particular event and looking at each species listed.
Note: at this point, not all WHISPers events have species level diagnoses provided.
Why is the location information only specific to the county level?
How exact are the numbers for population, sick, and dead in WHISPers?
Why is it important to track wildlife mortality events?
What data are included?
WHISPers is designed to store summary or aggregate data from wildlife disease events, as opposed to information on each individual animal involved in the event. Each record includes location of the event (to county level), start and end dates, species involved, number of sick and dead, cause of wildlife illness or death, the laboratory where cause of disease/death was confirmed, and contact information for the agency that submitted carcasses/samples to the laboratory.
Information on citing WHISPers data is listed below.
Where is the information in WHISPers from?
This information is from a variety of sources including federal, tribal, and state agencies who contacted the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for diagnostic and epidemiological assistance during mortality events; diagnostic case reports from other wildlife diagnostic laboratories; and published reports in journals, newspapers, or other reporting outlets such as ProMEDmail.org. Information from newspaper and other outlets is verified to the best of our ability before inclusion in the database.
WHISPers does not currently contain much information from designed surveillance programs; however, data on select surveillance projects that the USGS National Wildlife Health Center has partnered on can be found on our wildlife pathogen surveillance website.
Event information is collected and shared opportunistically and therefore may not be a complete representation of what is occurring in wildlife populations in any given time or place. Providing a common platform through WHISPers for partners to share wildlife event information will increase our collective understanding of when and where diseases occur in wildlife.
What is involved in diagnostic laboratory evaluation and testing?
Are events from all types of wildlife recorded?
Who enters data into WHISPers?
Currently, the information is entered by staff at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. Future plans include providing authenticated agency partners the capability to enter information about mortality and morbidity events directly into the system, and be able to edit/update those records as needed.
Diagnostic facilities, like the National Wildlife Health Center, will also be able to enter records, if authorized by a submitting agency partner.
Who created WHISPers?
Is this a new idea?
How do I ...
Search the data?
Click on the magnifying glass symbol at the top left of the page.
At "Start Here" use the dropdown list to choose your search criteria from event type (morbidity/mortality >5, morbidity/mortality <5, surveillance), diagnosis, diagnosis type (bacteria, fungus, virus, etc.), species, state, county, number affected, or date. Follow the criteria-specific prompts (e.g., "Enter a number" or "Please enter 3 or more characters") to define your search by typing in the search value box.
For "OR" searches, type in multiple items within the same search value box; for "AND" searches enter criteria separately.
If you select "Diagnosis" and then type "bot" and select "Botulism Type C" from the drop-down list and then type "bot" again and select "Botulism Type E," then the search will return any events with Botulism Type C OR Type E.
If you were to select "Diagnosis" as the criteria and enter "Botulism Type C’ and then click "Add Criteria" and then select "Diagnosis" again and enter "Botulism Type E" and "Add Criteria" and then click the "Search" button, then the search will return any events that have Botulism Type C AND Botulism Type E as diagnoses.
Modify my search?
Clear my search and start again?
Download or Save my search?
Information presented on the WHISPers website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of the appropriate citation is requested. To direct readers to the entire WHISPers website, it is sufficient to give the address of the site in text:
Retrieved [month, day, year], from the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership event reporting system (http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/whispers/).
To cite data obtained from WHISPers, the following citation format is offered as a suggestion:
Retrieved [month, day, year], from the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership event reporting system on-line database, http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/whispers/.
Citations can be formatted to the style needed for your publication as long as there is sufficient information included to return the reader to the referenced information.
Reach someone regarding using this information in a publication?
Report a mortality event?
Become a partner?
Find out more information about a mortality event?
Make a suggestion?
Report an error?
Get medical help because I, a family member, or a pet may have been exposed to a disease in my county?
What does "Diagnosis" mean in WHISPers?
How is the diagnosis determined?
What does a suspect diagnosis mean?
In WHISPers, if a diagnosis is not listed as "suspect" then it is confirmed. Both confirmed and suspect refer to a level of certainty about the diagnosis based on meeting disease-specific criteria. Those criteria are often based on a combination of field information, necropsy observations, laboratory test results, and microscopic findings. Confirmed means it met the specific criteria for that particular diagnosis. A suspect diagnosis generally meets some of criteria, but not enough to be definitive.
For example, a confirmed diagnosis of Botulism Type C means the field information and necropsy findings were consistent with avian botulism and the bird(s) examined tested positive for the toxin that causes botulism type C.
A Botulism Type C suspect diagnosis might be given:
- if the specimen was diagnostically compatible (i.e., field observations of sick bird behavior and necropsy findings were consistent with botulism) but samples were not tested or the test results were inconclusive.
- to a bird found during the same event as birds confirmed with Botulism Type C.
- to sick birds observed exhibiting behaviors typical of Botulism Type C on a pond where botulism was confirmed during the same season the previous year.
What are "Causal" and "Major" diagnoses in WHISPers?
What is Affected?
NOTE: data prior to 2016 might not comply to these rules yet and is likely to reflect only number dead.