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OIE Working Group on Wildlife Diseases - Paris, 9-11 February 2004

EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES: THE WILDLIFE CONNECTION

Several emerging infectious diseases have been identified in animals and humans in different regions of the world. Recent examples include bovine tuberculosis, monkey pox, rabies, West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and avian influenza also known as bird flu. It is not unusual that some of these diseases have animal origins. Approximately 60% of existing human pathogens and many of those that have appeared during the past 20 years, can be traced back to animals and several of them have a proven link with wildlife

Some of the possible theories for this increased transmission of pathogens across the species divide include:

  • Expanding human populations with increased contact with wild animals,
  • Wildlife associated microbes entering livestock-based agricultural systems,
  • Intensification of wildlife farming,
  • Increasingly mobile human populations,
  • Increased movement of animals and animal products via international trade

During its annual meeting in Paris from 9-11 February 2004, the OIE Working Group on Wildlife Diseases closely examined the relationships between emerging infections in wildlife, humans, and domestic animals. The group recognised the difficulties and ecological sensitivities associated with disease control strategies in wildlife and concluded that the necessity and feasibility of managing disease agents in wild animals can only be determined by thorough epidemiological evaluation and environmental impact assessment.

Members of the Working Group were encouraged by the response obtained from a questionnaire that was circulated world-wide on the occurrence of diseases in wildlife. In the light of the potential risk posed by the presence of selected disease agents in wild animals to the health of humans and domestic animals, the Group encourages OIE Member Countries to continue their good surveillance work and to take advantage of opportunities to improve detection and management of disease agents in wildlife.EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES: THE WILDLIFE CONNECTION

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