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Wildlife Diseases

Directly Transmitted Transmitted Animal Diseases

Tick-Borne Diseases

Flea-Borne Diseases

Commensal Rodent-Borne Diseases

Rats and mice are responsible for the spread of over 35 diseases, either directly, through contamination of human food with their urine or feces, or indirectly, by way of rodent fleas and mites. Following are brief descriptions of the more common of these diseases.

Bird-Borne Diseases

Large roosting concentrations of birds can be noisy, and the associated droppings can be a nuisance because of the objectionable odor and mess. In addition, birds may carry and transmit diseases to livestock and humans. Collections of droppings may provide a medium for bacterial and fungal growth that could pose a potential public health problem. Birds should be dispersed or controlled when they form large concentrations near human habitations and are judged to pose a threat to public health or livestock. Concentrations of birds that do not threaten human health or agriculture are usually better left undisturbed.

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:

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

Public Health Concerns

There are many issues to be aware of when encountering and handling animals, including diseases, methods of handling and precautions. You can ensure greater safety by reviewing this information about public health concerns and general precautions.

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