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Surveillance and monitoring of wildlife diseases

Author(s) : T. Mörner, D.L. Obendorf, M. Artois & M.H. Woodford

Summary :

It is now recognised that those countries which conduct disease surveillance of their wild animal populations are more likely to detect the presence of infectious and zoonotic diseases and to swiftly adopt counter measures. The surveillance and monitoring of disease outbreaks in wildlife populations are particularly relevant in these days of rapid human and animal translocation, when the contact between wild and domestic animals is close and the threat of a bioterrorist attack is very real. The authors describe the problems inherent in wildlife disease surveillance and stress the importance of the establishment of national strategies for disease detection. The various sampling methods employed for monitoring outbreaks of disease and mortality in wildlife populations are discussed and their strengths and weaknesses described. A major advantage of an efficient disease monitoring programme for wildlife is the early detection of new and ‘emerging’ diseases, some of which may have serious zoonotic and economic implications. The authors conclude that wildlife disease monitoring programmes that are integrated within national animal health surveillance infrastructures should have the capacity to respond promptly to the detection of unusual wildlife mortality and to institute epizootiological research into new and emerging wildlife diseases.

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