Explainer: People can sicken animals

Wildlife can sometimes become infected with germs shed by people

By Amanda Leigh Mascarelli, 14:21 PM April 17, 2013

 

Researchers examine this sea otter for clues to what might have killed it. Sea otters and other marine mammals sometimes fall ill from germs washed downstream and into the ocean. Credit: Calif. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

 

 

Normally, doctors worry about how human illness will spread between people. But wildlife, too, can sometimes become infected with germs shed by people or their pets. And sometimes those germs may hit wild animals as hard — or harder — than they do people.

 

This is something that Melissa Miller has been studying for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Santa Cruz. As a veterinary pathologist, Miller studies animals to determine their cause of illness or death. She and her cowork...

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