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 and 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

Diseases You Can Get From Wildlife - a field guide for Hunters, Trappers, Anglers, and Biologists (PDF, 4 MB)

  • 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?

  • An introduction to the fact sheets of common parasites and diseases of fishes and wildlife in Alberta.

What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet Index

  • An introduction to the fact sheets of common parasites and diseases of fishes and wildlife in Alberta.

Wildlife and Human Health in Alberta

Wildlife Info Bulletins Index

  • 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

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #6

Anthrax*

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Anthrax (Bacillus anthacis) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #5

Avian Botulism

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Avian Botulism (Clostridium botulinum) in Alberta

  • 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

Surveillance for High Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Dead Wild Birds in Alberta– 2006 (4 pages)

Avian Pox

Primary Habitat: Raptors and Song Birds

Avian Pox (Poxvirus avium) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #31

Avian Salmonellosis*

Primary Habitat: Song Birds

Avian Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp) in Alberta

  • 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

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #39

Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB)*

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Bovine Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #2

Bovine Tuberculosis in Southeastern Alberta
Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Alberta 2016
Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Alberta 2017
Starting in 2017 Alberta Environment and Parks, in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will conduct active surveillance for bovine tuberculosis. Approximately ~120 hunter-harvested elk in WMU 732 will be tested each year for three years. When available, annual results will be provided on this website.

Related Information

  • CFB Suffield Elk Hunt

    Information on the hunt at CFB Suffield and the possibility of bovine tuberculosis within the population of elk associated with the base.

  • 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

Brucellosis (Brucella spp) in Alberta

  • 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

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #42

Related Information

Chlamydiosis*

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Chronic Wasting Disease

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Chronic Wasting Disease (a prion disease) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #10

Related Information

  • alberta.ca/cwd

    A short-cut that takes you directly into Alberta’s CWD pages.

  • AlbertaRELM

    Negative CWD results are sent by email to the address in each hunter’s AlbertaRELM account. Be sure to keep your email address current.

  • Chronic Wasting Disease

    Learn 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 CWD 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

Echinococcus multilocularis in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #36

EHD (Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease)

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Haemorrhagic disease (EHD) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #34

Related Information

Encysted Larvae in Fish

Primary Habitat: Fish

Encysted larvae in fishes in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #40

Filarial Worms

Primary Habitat: Carnivores, Ungulates

Fly Larvae: Bots & Warbles

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Rodents

Fly Larvae: Bots and Warbles in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #44

Frog Diseases

Primary Habitat: Amphibians

Giant Liver Fluke

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Giant Liver Fluke (Fascioloides magna) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #20

Giardiasis*

Primary Habitat: Furbearers

Giardiasis in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #37

Haemal Lymph Nodes

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Haemal Lymph Nodes in Alberta

  • What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet # 32

Hantavirus*

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

Hantavirus (Sin Nombre virus) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #7

Hydatid Tapeworm*

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Carnivores

Hydatid Tapeworm (Echinococcus cervi) in Alberta

  • 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

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #38

Lice on Birds in Alberta

  • 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

Lancet (Little) Liver Fluke Cypress Hills Survey- Fall 2010 (1 page)

  • 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

Liver Blisters (Taenia hydatigena) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #14

Lungworms

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Lyme Disease*

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #12

Meningeal Worm

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Moose Flies

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Moose Flies (Haematobosca alcis) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #30

Moose Measles

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Carnivores

Moose Measles (Taenia krabbei) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #16

Newcastle Disease Virus*

Primary Habitat: Waterfowl

Newcastle Disease Virus (a paramyxovirus) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #25

Parvovirus

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

Perukes

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Perukes in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #45

Rabbit Blisters

Primary Habitat: Hares, Rabbits, Carnivores

Rabbit Blisters (Taenia pisiformis) in Alberta

  • What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #25

Rabies*

Primary Habitat: Carnivores, Other Mammals

Rabies (Lyssavirus) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #13

Rabies and Rabies Management in Alberta

  • Wildlife Info Bulletin #5

Related Information

Raphidascaris

Primary Habitat: Fish

Ribbon Tapeworms

Primary Habitat: Fish

Ribbon Tapeworms in fishes in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #41

Ringworm *

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Ringworm of Deer (Trichophyton verrucosum) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #19

Saprolegniosis

Primary Habitat: Fish

Saprolegniosis in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #29

Sarcocystis

Primary Habitat: Big Game, Waterfowl

Sarcocystis (Sarcocystic spp.) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #11

Sarcoptic Mange *

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

Sarcoptic Mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #9

Scaly-leg Mites

Primary Habitat: Song Birds

Scaly-leg Mites (Knemidokoptes spp.) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #8

Seroma

Primary Habitat: Big Game

Seroma in Alberta

  • What's Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #33

Skin Tumors of Fish

Primary Habitat: Fish

Skin Tumours of Fishes (various viruses) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #26

Skin Tumors of Mammals

Primary Habitat: Various Mammals

Skin Tumours of Mammals (variety of papillomaviruses) in Alberta

  • 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

Moose and Ticks in Alberta: A Die off in 1998/99

  • An overview of a investigation into a moose die off 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.

Rabbit/Grouse Tick (Haemaphysalis leporispalustris) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #23

Winter Tick (Dermacentor albipictus) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #21

Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #22

Triaenophorous Tapeworm

Primary Habitat: Fish

Triaenophorous Tapeworm (Triaenophorous crassus) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #27

Trichinellosis*

Primary Habitat: Carnivores

Trichinella (Trichinella spp.) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #18

Tularaemia *

Primary Habitat: Furbearers

Tularaemia in Alberta

  • 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)

Whirling Disease

Primary Habitat: Fish

Whirling Disease

  • Alberta Environment and Parks information on Whirling Disease

Related Information

White-nose Syndrome

Primary Habitat: Small Mammals

White-nose Syndrome (Geomyces destructans) in Alberta

  • What’s Bugging Wild Critters? Fact Sheet #28

Related Information

Yellow Grub

Primary Habitat: Fish

*Zoonosis – Can infect people