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Wildlife Diseases

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

The term Bird Flu has sparked interest, concern and even panic in some parts of the world. The fact that the virus may be carried in migrant populations of wild birds means that it can be transported from one country, and even continent, to another.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD)

A fatal brain disease of deer and elk that is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Animals infected with CWD show progressive loss of weight and body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, depression, loss of muscle control and eventual death. There is no scientific evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans or to animals other than deer and elk.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD)
EHD is a disease that mainly affects white-tailed deer in the United States. This disease is caused by a virus that is spread by a biting midge. The disease usually affects deer herds in South Dakota in the late summer or early fall. Most refer to this disease as bluetongue and although they are very similar, they are slightly different viruses.


Fleas carrying plague are found primarily on rodents, but can be found on several mammal species found in South Dakota (e.g. prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, fox, and free-roaming pets). Today, human cases of plague in the USA are rare. Plague can cause severe illness or death.

Other Wildlife Related Diseases (Department of Health web site)