Diseases in wildlife from Germany

Our research combines pathological and microbiological investigations of deceased wild animals from Germany to gain relevant insights into the health status and the presence of infectious agents in native species. 

Project details
Duration: since 07/2007
Third-party funded: partly (Diseases of bats)
Involved Department(s): Dept Wildlife Diseases
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Pathology: Gudrun Wibbelt, Bacteriology: Kristin Mühldorfer (all: Dept Wildlife Diseases)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Claudia Szentiks, Marion Biering, Nadine Jahn, Doris Krumnow, Zoltan Mezö, Monique Schmückert, Dagmar Viertel (all: Dept Wildlife Diseases)
Consortium Partner(s): Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Berlin, Hessian State Laboratory (LHL) Giessen, Freie Universität Berlin
Current Funding Organisation: Adolf and Hildegart Isler Foundation, Klara Samariter Foundation, FAZIT Foundation
Research Foci:
Understanding wildlife health and disturbed homeostasis
Understanding the environmental context


Human-orientated approaches often neglect that wildlife is not merely a source of zoonotic pathogens but suffer health consequences from emerging diseases. One dramatic example is the white nose syndrome, a serious fungal disease which was only recognized since 2006 and killed millions of insectivorous bats in North America.

For a better understanding of wildlife health and circulating infectious agents in Germany, we perform disease investigations in native wild animals. Carnivores, rodents and insectivorous bats are the main species of our research interests. We work closely with wildlife rehabilitation centres, wildlife veterinarians and volunteers, and other stakeholders to provide scientific support for their conservation efforts.

An interdisciplinary long-term project of Dr. G. Wibbelt (Pathologist) and Dr. K. Mühldorfer (Bacteriologist) focusses since 2007 on diseases and infectious agents in native bats from Germany. This research considers results of pathology, bacteriology and virology (in collaboration) from sick and deceased bats to investigate actual health problems, causes of death and the presence of novel infectious agents.        

Selected Publications

Kohl C, Brinkmann A, Radonic A, Dabrowski PW, Nitsche A, Mühldorfer K, Wibbelt G, Kurth A (2020): Zwiesel bat banyangvirus, a potentially zoonotic Huaiyangshan banyangvirus (formerly known as SFTS)-like banyangvirus in Northern bats from Germany. SCI REP 10, 1370.

Berger A, Dangel A, Peters M, Mühldorfer K, Braune S, Eisenberg T, Szentiks CA, Rau J, Konrad R, Hörmansdorfer S, Ackermann N, Sing A (2019): Tox-positive Corynebacterium ulcerans in hedgehogs, Germany. EMERG MICROBES INFECT 8, 211-217.

Mühldorfer K, Rau J, Fawzy A, Heydel C, Glaeser SP, van der Linden M, Kutzer P, Knauf-Witzens T, Hanczaruk M, Eckert AS, Eisenberg T  (2019): Streptococcus castoreus, an uncommon group A Streptococcus in beavers. ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK 112, 1663-1673.

Wibbelt G, Tausch SH, Dabrowski PW, Kershaw O, Nitsche A, Schrick L (2017): Berlin Squirrelpox virus, a new poxvirus in red squirrels, Berlin, Germany. EMERG INFECT DIS 23, 726-1729.

Mühldorfer K, Speck S, Kurth A, Lesnik R, Freuling C, Müller T, Kramer-Schadt S, Wibbelt G (2011): Diseases and causes of death in European bats: dynamics in disease susceptibility and infection rates. PLOS ONE 6, e29773.

Mühldorfer K, Speck S, Wibbelt G (2011): Diseases in free-ranging bats from Germany. BMC Vet Res 7, 61.Mühldorfer K, Speck S, Wibbelt G. (2011) Diseases in free-ranging bats from Germany. BMC Vet Res. 7:61.

Wibbelt G, Kurth A, Hellmann D, Weishaar M, Barlow A, Veith M, et al. (2010):White-nose syndrome fungus (Geomyces destructans) in bats, Europe. EMERG INFECT DIS 16, 1237-1243.

Mühldorfer K, Wibbelt G, Haensel J, Riehm J, Speck S (2010): Yersinia species isolated from bats, Germany. EMERG INFECT DIS 16, 578-580.