Wildlife Diseases

The diversity of wildlife forms in Alberta surpasses that in many other Canadian jurisdictions. Resident wild species can range from ants and antelope to walleye and whiskeyjacks, and includes naturally occurring diseases and parasites.

Disease agents and parasites can raise some obvious concerns about whether Alberta’s wild species are a risk to people, to livestock or to other wildlife. In fact, such risk is rarely the case.

By far, the majority of individual fishes and wildlife in Alberta are healthy; it’s a rare event to see sick or dying animals. That said, diseases and parasites are a natural part of any ecosystem and the balance among all free-ranging native species.

Common Wildlife Diseases & Parasites

See below for information about some of the noteworthy diseases and parasites in Alberta and the programs that have been implemented to understand and, if necessary, manage them.

Fact Sheet Index & General Information

A booklet on the BC Environment website providing text and pictures to help inform and protect readers from potential infection with disease agents that sometimes occur in western Canada's wildlife.
What's Bugging Wild Critters?- Mar 2004 (4 pages)
An introduction to the fact sheets of common parasites and diseases of fishes and wildlife in Alberta.
An introduction to the fact sheets of common parasites and diseases of fishes and wildlife in Alberta.
Wildlife Info Bulletins Index- Sep 2015 (1 page)
An index to the bulletins which report disease outbreaks or unusual occurrences of parasites or diseases of fishes and wildlife in Alberta.

Abscesses

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Abscesses (Bacterial) in Alberta- Mar 2004 (2 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #6

Anthrax*

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #5

Avian Botulism

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #4

Avian Cholera

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Avian cholera was confirmed in waterfowl near Calgary in February 2007. This is not uncommon in the Bow River watershed among overwintering waterfowl.

Avian cholera is caused by a bacteria that affects the birds due to poor conditioning caused by

  • difficulties finding food
  • exposure to harsh winter weather
  • stresses due to crowded flocks

Related Information

Avian Conjunctivitis

Primary Habitat: Song Birds

Avian Influenza

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Avian Influenza in Wild Birds: FAQ- Jun 8, 2006 (4 pages)
Surveillance for High Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Dead Wild Birds in Alberta– 2006 (4 pages)

To access these documents, see:

Avian Pox

Primary Habitat: Raptors and Song Birds

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #31

Avian Salmonellosis*

Primary Habitat: Song Birds

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #3

Baylisascaris*

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

Besnoitea

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Black Spot

Primary Habitat: Fish

Black Spot in fishes in Alberta- Feb 2015 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #39

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB)*

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #2

Related Information

  • Wood Bison Disease Management

    Information about Alberta’s management of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis in free-ranging wood bison in and around Wood Buffalo National Park.

Broad Fish Tapeworm*

Primary Habitat: Fish

Brucellosis*

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #1

Related Information

  • Wood Bison Disease Management

    Information about Alberta’s management of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis in free-ranging wood bison in and around Wood Buffalo National Park.

Canine Distemper

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

Canine Distemper in Alberta- May 2015 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #42

Related Information

Chlamydiosis*

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Chronic Wasting Disease

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #10

Related Information

  • AlbertaRELM

    Alberta hunters can check this website for results on deer heads they have submitted for CWD testing.

  • Chronic Wasting Disease

    Learn about what Chronic Wasting Disease is, the history of CWD in Alberta and provincial CWD surveillance and response.

  • Chronic Wasting Disease – Information for Hunters

    A CWD resource for Alberta hunters that includes:

    • CWD Freezer Locations map
    • guidelines for filling out ID labels, and deer carcass transportation and handling
    • information about Alberta’s fall CWD surveillance programs
    • instructions on how to submit harvested deer heads for testing

Echinococcus multilocularis*

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #36

EHD (Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease)

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #34

Related Information

Encysted Larvae in Fish

Primary Habitat: Fish

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #40

Filarial Worms

Primary Habitat: Carnivores, Ungulates

Fly Larvae: Bots & Warbles

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Frog Diseases

Primary Habitat: Amphibians

Giant Liver Fluke

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #20
A survey being conducted by Elk Island National Park to find giant liver fluke in the liver (and occasionally lungs) of deer, elk and moose.

Hunters in the area are asked to submit the entire liver or entire liver and lung of harvested deer, elk and moose, in exchange for a complementary Elk Island National Park single day pass.

Giardiasis*

Primary Habitat: Furbearers

Giardiasis in Alberta- Oct 2014 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #37

Haemal Lymph Nodes

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet # 32

Hantavirus*

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #7

Hydatid Tapeworm*

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #17

Legworm

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Lice

Primary Habitat: (Carnivores, Big Game), Birds (many species, Waterfowl)

Lice on Mammals in Alberta– Sep 2015 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #38
Lice on Birds in Alberta– Sep 2015 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #43

Related Information

This Information Bulletin describes increased occurrence of dog lice on coyotes across much of Alberta in 2014/15.

Lancet (Little) Liver Fluke

Primary Habitat: Big Game

A survey being conducted by the Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) Fish and Wildlife Division to find lancet (little) liver fluke in the livers of mule deer and white-tailed deer harvested around Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta.

Liver Blisters

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #14

Lungworms

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Lyme Disease*

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #12

Meningeal Worm

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Moose Flies

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #30

Moose Measles

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #16

Newcastle Disease Virus*

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #25

Parvovirus

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

Rabbit Blisters

Primary Habitat: Hares, Rabbits, Carnivores

What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #25

Rabies*

Primary Habitat: Carnivores, Other Mammals

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #13
Wildlife Info Bulletin #5

Related Information

Raphidascaris

Primary Habitat: Fish

Ribbon Tapeworms

Primary Habitat: Fish

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #41

Ringworm *

Primary Habitat: Big Game

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #19

Saprolegniosis

Primary Habitat: Fish

Saprolegniosis in Alberta- Apr 2010 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #29

Sarcocystis

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Waterfowl

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #11

Sarcoptic Mange *

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #9

Scaly-leg Mites

Primary Habitat: Song Birds

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #8

Seroma

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Seroma in Alberta- 2011 (2 pages)
What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #33

Skin Tumors of Fish

Primary Habitat: Fish

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #26

Skin Tumors of Mammals

Primary Habitat: Various Mammals

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #24

Soremouth *

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Swim Bladder Worm (Cystidicola)

Primary Habitat: Fish

Swimmer’s Itch *

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Ticks

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Small Mammals

An overview of a investigation into a moose dieoff that occurred in northern and western regions of Alberta in early 1999. One factor cited in the moose deaths was winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) infestation.
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #23
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #21
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #22

Triaenophorous Tapeworm

Primary Habitat: Fish

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #27

Trichinellosis*

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #18

Tularaemia *

Primary Habitat: Furbearers

Tularaemia in Alberta- Oct 2014 (3 pages)
What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #35

West Nile Virus

Primary Habitat: Birds

Alberta West Nile Virus Bird Surveillance Reports

These reports provide results of Alberta’s West Nile Virus surveillance programs from 2003 to 2009. To access these documents, see:

Wildlife Info Bulletin #1: Sage-Grouse and West Nile Virus in Alberta- Spring 2004 (1 page)
Wildlife Info Bulletin #3: West Nile virus in Alberta – What Happened in 2004?– Oct 13, 2004 (2 pages)

To access these documents, see:

Whirling Disease

Primary Habitat: Fish

Alberta Environment & Parks information on Whirling Disease

Related Information

White-nose Syndrome

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #28

Related Information

Yellow Grub

Primary Habitat: Fish

*Zoonosis – Can infect people

 

Page Information

Updated: Aug 30, 2016