Wildlife Diseases


Wildlife workers tend to ignore the risks associated with handling wildlife species and working in natural environments. Diseases of wildlife or diseases present in their habitats can infect humans and some can cause serious illness or even death. Becoming aware of the potential diseases present and taking precautions to decrease exposure will greatly reduce chances of becoming infected with one of these diseases. This section provides a description of the major zoonotic diseases of wildlife in the United States that can also infect humans and gives information on disease prevention.

You can prevent infection with zoonotic diseases and reduce the seriousness of an illness by observing the following recommendations:

  1. Become aware of which zoonotic diseases are present in your area and their clinical symptoms.
  2. Obtain any pre-exposure vaccinations that are available, particularly for rabies.
  3. Take personal precautions to reduce exposure to disease agents and vectors such as ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas.
  4. Practice good sanitation procedures when handling or processing animals or their products.
  5. If you become ill, promptly seek proper medical treatment and inform the physician about possible exposures.