The National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) was founded in 1975 to provide technical assistance in identifying, controlling, and preventing wildlife losses from diseases, conduct research to understand the impact of diseases on wildlife populations, and devise methods to more effectively manage these disease threats. The impetus behind the creation of the NWHC was, in part, the catastrophic loss of tens of thousands of waterfowl as a result of an outbreak of duck plague at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota during January 1973. In 1996, the NWHC, along with other Department of Interior research functions, was transferred from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), where we remain one of many entities that provide the independent science that forms the bases of the sound management of the Nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to provide national leadership to safeguard wildlife and ecosystem health through dynamic partnerships and exceptional science. The main campus of the NWHC is located in Madison, Wis., where we maintain biological safety level 3 (BSL–3) diagnostic and research facilities purposefully designed for work with wildlife species. The NWHC provides research and technical assistance on wildlife health issues to State, Federal, and international agencies. In addition, since 1992 we have maintained a field station in Hawaii, the Honolulu Field Station, which focuses on marine and terrestrial natural resources throughout the Pacific region. The NWHC conducts diagnostic investigations of unusual wildlife morbidity and mortality events nationwide to detect the presence of wildlife pathogens and determine the cause of death. This is also an important activity for detecting new, emerging and resurging diseases. The NWHC provides this crucial information on the presence of wildlife diseases to wildlife managers to support sound management decisions. The data and information generated also allows for further indepth analyses for determining the biological and ecological significance of disease events, detecting disease trends over time and space, as well as detecting any significant changes to how diseases manifest in the field. Moreover, this information allows us to gain insight into the significance of future wildlife disease events. The purpose of this report is to provide a sample of NWHC data that are available from our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). These data are presented in summary format with minimal statistical analysis and interpretation. The goal is to share these data with wildlife managers and other stakeholders, promote the use of NHWC data, and encourage the sharing of wildlife disease data to improve temporal and geographic surveillance coverage. Continued national surveillance for wildlife diseases is essential for providing early detection and warning of events that have the potential to result in harm to human health, economic losses, declines in wildlife populations, and subsequent ecological disturbances. Increased collaboration, coordination, and sharing of surveillance data will enhance this Nation’s ability to detect and respond to wildlife disease threats.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, 2011 report of selected wildlife diseases