Wildlife

Wildlife Health

The OIE considers disease surveillance in wild animals—including both terrestrial and aquatic species—to be just as important as surveillance in domestic animals. Pathogens in wild animals are important to domestic animal health, to trade in animals and animal products, to human health and to wild animal populations themselves, which often have very high economic, social and cultural value. Surveillance especially at the interface of human-animal-ecosystems has become necessary given the increasing interaction between species and the threat it poses to emergence of novel infectious diseases.

The OIE Delegate in each Member country nominates a National Focal Point on Wildlife. This contact point supports the Delegate in tasks relating to wildlife. The OIE also provides capacity building with training cycles for Focal Points.

Many of the chapters in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code deal with wildlife, partly or entirely.

Improving wildlife disease surveillance

Wildlife disease surveillance allows early detection of potentially impactful animal and human health threats and implementation of appropriate control measures. This can only be achieved by timely reporting the occurrence of wild and domestic animal diseases. The OIE Working Group on Wildlife regularly encourages countries to notify wildlife diseases through the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) – Wild   platform.

Reporting of OIE-listed diseases in wildlife had been consistent over the years. However, since 2012, non OIE-listed diseases have observed a downward trend in notifications. Considering the potential threat to animal and/or human health that these diseases may represent, the Working Group has recently revised the criteria for voluntary reporting of non OIE-listed diseases. This aims to facilitate reporting activities and ultimately contributes to document and generate knowledge on new infectious and non-infectious agents in wildlife. In addition, over 20 technical disease cards   were prepared by the Group. These aim to provide clear and detailed information on these diseases, thus facilitating its reporting to the OIE by its Members.

OIE Working Group on Wildlife

The OIE Working Group on Wildlife was founded in 1994, to advise the OIE on health problems relating to wild animals (whether in the wild or in captivity). The group is comprised of scientific experts who are world leaders in their subject areas. They prepare recommendations and oversee numerous scientific publications on the surveillance and control of the most important specific wildlife diseases.

Resources and further reading

Biodiversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (see http://www.cbd.int/convention/articles/?a=cbd-02).

Variability is essential for the evolution and adaptation of living organisms, including animals be they wild or domestic, and constitutes a vast field of research. Such research will lead a better understanding of the ecosystems and the discovery of various molecules with potential benefits to the humanity.

Protection of biodiversity is therefore crucial both for animals and humans, in particular at a time when global challenges are posed by growing human population; increasing movement of goods, animals and people, together with pathogens and invasive species; and climate changes, to name a few.

With a mandate to improve animal health, veterinary public health and animal welfare world-wide, the OIE, along with other international organisations and Member Countries, has a key role to play to protect biodiversity. Protection of biodiversity is also one of the platforms where intersectoral collaboration between animal and human health and environmental health needs to be developed and reinforced under the “One Health” initiatives.

Consistent with its mandate and to support safeguarding of biodiversity, the OIE:

Resources