Introduction to Infectious Wildlife Diseases


  • Melody McFarland



Infectious disease, nosocomial infection, bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, wildlife


In the last 10 years, wildlife diseases that were once discussed only on the pages of a microbiology textbook are making their way into the common vernacular. Emerging infectious diseases have been increasingly reported as causes of death in wild animals. These diseases are a particular threat to wildlife species whose population, habitat, or range has been diminished or artificially manipulated to promote species survival (e.g., captive breeding, translocation, and release programs) (Lyles and Dobson 1993). Sometimes the newfound fame of these diseases is the result of sensationalism, yet other times they have garnered rightful attention. How do you make the distinction? Inevitably, you, as a wildlife rehabilitator, will most likely field questions from the public visiting your facility or a concerned neighbor or family member. It is important to disseminate accurate information without either fomenting undue panic or understating danger.


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Author Biography

Melody McFarland

Melody McFarland holds a BS in biology from Millersville University in PA and currently lives in Yokosuka, Japan. Before moving to Japan, she was a research scientist with bioMerieux of Durham, NC, in the microbiology exploratory research department. She was also a volunteer rehabilitator with Piedmont Wildlife Center and formerly served on their board.

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How to Cite

McFarland, M. (2006). Introduction to Infectious Wildlife Diseases. Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 24(2), 27–32.