Wildlife Disease: Human Health Connections

 What is the Human Health Connection?

Great Blue Heron Approximately two-thirds of the infectious diseases that affect humans are of animal origin. Over the last 30 years a great preponderance of these diseases, including most emerging and resurging infectious diseases, have wildlife roots. This pattern is global and includes Ebola fever (Africa), Hantavirus disease (USA), Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever (South America), SARS (Asia), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (Europe, Asia, Africa) and other diseases noted for their high human case-fatality rates. These and other diseases of wildlife pose increasing challenges for the health of humans. Sometimes human health is compromised in unanticipated ways like: contamination of blood supplies (AIDS, West Nile Fever), organ donor contributions intended to sustain human life (Rabies, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis), the foods we eat (Trichinosis, Anisakiosis), and even recreational activities involving contact with contaminated environments (Leptospirosis, Histoplasmosis). These and other situations emphasize the need for comprehensive wildlife disease information in order to build a foundation to facilitate strategic planning and actions to protect human health.

Milton Friend
USGS Emeritus Scientist
Founding Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center

This site was developed and is maintained by the Wildlife Data Integration Network with support from:
U. S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center and the
University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

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University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies