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.
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
- OIE Wildlife Health Framework “Protecting Wildlife Health to Achieve One Health”
- Wildlife Health Survey Report
- Statement of the OIE Wildlife Working Group, April 2020: Wildlife Trade and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases (April 2020)
- Rapid review of evidence emerging disease and wildlife trade (Feb 2021)
- Protecting “One Health”
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:
- develops science-based standards on disease detection, prevention, and control as well as safe trade measures to harmonise the policies related to disease risks at the interfaces between wildlife, domestic animals, and humans;
- supports and updates regularly the notification mechanisms of animal diseases through the global information systems OIE WAHIS and WAHIS-Wild;
- supports Member Countries to strengthen their Veterinary Services to protect animal health including aspects related to wildlife and biodiversity using, if needed, the OIE PVS Pathway;
- continues to develop and update OIE strategies and policies on wildlife and biodiversity through the work of the Scientific Commission and its Working Group on Wildlife Diseases as well as the network of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres.
- OIE Global Conference on Wildlife Animal Health and Biodiversity (France – 2011) – Recommendations
- Guidelines for assessing the risk of non-native animals becoming invasive
- Invasive species – Part 1: general aspects and biodiversity
- Invasive species – Part 2: concrete examples