Wildlife includes any undomesticated animal living in the wild, including those hunted for food, sport, or profit. Many people enjoy watching wildlife, and studies have shown that positive encounters with wildlife can have profound, life-changing effects on people. If you and your pets spend time outdoors around wildlife, you need to be aware of the diseases that can spread from wildlife to you and your pets.
Because wild animals can carry diseases without appearing to be sick, it is important to enjoy wildlife from a distance. Close contact with wildlife or their urine or droppings can spread these diseases to people and pets.
To protect yourself and your family from getting sick:
- Avoid hand-feeding wildlife.
- Avoid playing or working in areas where there are wildlife droppings.
- Leave orphaned animals alone. Often the parents are close by and will return for their young.
- Always wash your hands and the hands of children with running water and soap after working or playing outside, especially in areas where wildlife have been spotted.
By following some simple health tips, you are less likely to get sick from wildlife in the United States.
The most common diseases associated with wildlife that can cause human illness are:
- Aeromoniasis (Aeromonas)
- Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
- Baylisascaris procyonis (Raccoon roundworm)
- Botulism (Clostridium botulinum)
- Brucellosis (Brucella)
- Edwardsiellosis (Edwardsiella tarda)
- Erysipeloid (Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae)
- Giardiasis (Giardia)
- Lyme disease
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)
- Mycobacteriosis (Mycobacterium marinum)
- Plague (Yersinia pestis)
- Rat-Bite Fever
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
- Salmonellosis (Salmonella)
- Trichinellosis or Trichinosis
- Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
- Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
- Vesicular stomatitis
- Vibriosis (Vibrio)
- West Nile Virus
From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)