Human activities and environmental changes are resulting in new infectious disease dynamics and new
patterns favorable to pathogens spreading both geographically and between species as well as new
opportunities for increasing genetic variability. Wildlife, farm animals and even humans fall victim to
this increasingly common pattern. The international community as a whole must consider prevention
and control of animal diseases in wildlife as crucial components of safeguarding of global animal and
public health as well as biodiversity, while dealing with related agriculture and trade issues.
West Nile Fever, Hendra and Nipah virus and many more diseases, including many
zoonoses such as Ebola, are originally found in wildlife. All diseases for which wildlife
act as a reservoir and have an impact on animal populations (wild and domestic) and
humans or a combination of all, need extra attention from the international community.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. The rabies virus is present on all continents except Antarctica and some
countries. In some areas, the disease is endemic with rabies present mainly in wild animal hosts, while in others,
domestic animals still play a major role in rabies persistence:
– West European countries implementing effective wildlife rabies control programs that include oral vaccination campaigns using recombinant vaccines eliminated the
disease in wildlife
– population control and/or oral vaccination programmes for feral and stray animals are being implemented in several countries where rabies is endemic in wildlife;
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman
primates (some monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Ebola is considered to be a
zoonosis. The main natural reservoir is thought to be some species of bats native to
tropical forests. Large die-offs of endangered species of non-human primates have
been linked to infection with Ebola and infected animals can then serve as a source of
infection of Ebola in humans. Human outbreaks of Ebola virus are most likely linked to
hunting and handling of infected wildlife.
Wild boar can serve as a reservoir for a number of diseases, including foot and mouth
disease, pseudorabies, classical swine fever, African swine fever and brucellosis. These diseases can have a critical impact on the domestic swine sector and result in heavy
production losses due to high mortality and slaughter for disease control purposes.
Also, outbreaks in domestic pigs usually lead to the establishing of trade bans between
- INTENSIFIED MOVEMENT OF PATHOGENS
A series of factors amplify the circulation of pathogenic agents geographically, within and
between animal populations and between animals and humans. Most of these factors are
man-made and the trend will intensify with climate change, globalisation, demographic
evolution and linked new social behaviours. With increased ‘traffic’ on a global scale infectious
agents have more opportunities to mix, transmit between different species and exchange
genetic material that could combine into new killer pathogens.
Bush meat or other wet markets products are now common commodities. These combine with
the development of other new social patterns in developed countries such as the taste for
exotic pets, wild animal products or ecotourism.
Environmental conditions also largely influence pathogen dynamics and the crossing of the
species barrier by pathogens. Domestic animal grazing areas abut or overlap with wildlife
reserves leading to more contact and natural resource competition. Farmed wildlife (such as
deer and elk) and wildlife national and international relocation constitute additional issues to
consider. Wildlife endangered species can fall victim and get infected with various pathogens,
including domestic animal diseases. Finally the encroachment of humans in to formerly remote
habitats and environments leads to contact with new pathogens and the opportunity to move
these pathogens from their historical ranges