Parasites and Diseases
Like humans, fish and wildlife species can develop diseases during their lifetime. These animals can also host parasites that may or may not impact their health. Some diseases and parasites, called "zoonoses" can be transmitted to humans though contact with the affected animal's tissues or fluids, or by people eating infected parts of the animal. Descriptions and risks of some common wildlife diseases and parasites potentially infecting game meat are found on this link (PDF 146 kB). Humans can also fall ill due to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, though this is not an infectious disease or parasite, it is a disease caused by a toxin.
This section will help you understand what animals can carry which parasites and diseases commonly or you might be concerned about, how to know what to look for, how to avoid spreading animal diseases or parasites to your family or pets or other wildlife, and what you can do to safely prepare wild foods for consumption.
The easiest way to look up information is by host species or by disease. You may also be interested in learning about some of the diseases of concern to Alaskans and Alaska's wildlife resources These are diseases that are making the news - either because they have already been detected in Alaska or because scientists are doing surveillance for them here.
If you find disease or a parasite specimen that you feel should be submitted for examination, please follow the instructions on the form found here: Submitting Samples for Disease/Parasite Investigation (PDF 297 kB).
Wildlife Disease and Parasites in the News
- Risk of SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing Covid-19) Spreading to Wildlife in Alaska, FAQs (PDF 58 kB)
- Information about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Migratory Birds (PDF 237 kB)
- Moose Health and Disease: A Pocket Guide (PDF 1,883 kB)
- Caribou Health and Disease: A Pocket Guide (PDF 2,835 kB)
An in-depth look at caribou diseases in Alaska, how they affect herd health and populations, and their impacts on animals and people alike.
- (M. ovi) in Alaska Wildlife: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Results of Nasal Swab Samples from Hunter-harvested Sheep (PDF 698 kB)
- Information on ticks in the State of Alaska (including how to submit a tick)
- Tick-borne disease information
- Watching for ticks (Alaska Fish & Wildlife News)
- Pet Owners Be Aware: Tularemia Suspected in Snowshoe Hares in Interior Alaska (PDF 147 kB)
- Fact Sheet on Tularemia (PDF 42 kB)
Diseases of Concern
- Avian Influenza (birds)
- Chronic Wasting Disease (deer, elk, moose)
- Chytrid Fungus (amphibians)
- West Nile Virus (birds)
- Whirling Disease (fish)
- White-nose Syndrome (bats)
- Common wildlife diseases and parasites (PDF 146 kB)
- What is this "thing" in my game? (PDF 231 kB)
- Can my dog get sick from raw game meat? (PDF 316 kB)
Report unusual numbers of sick or dead birds to: 1-866-527-3358 or email AK_MBM@fws.gov.