Wildlife disease

Wild animals, domestic animals and humans share a large and increasing number of infectious diseases, known as zoonoses.[1] The continued globalization of society, human population growth, and associated landscape change further increase the interactions between humans and other animals, thereby facilitating additional infectious disease emergence.[2][3] Contemporary diseases of zoonotic origin include SARS, Lyme disease and West Nile virus.[4]

Dead limosa harlequin frog showing symptoms of chytridiomycosis

Disease emergence and resurgence in populations of wild animals are considered an important topic for conservationists, as these diseases can affect the sustainability of affected populations and the long-term survival of some species.[5] Examples of such diseases include chytridiomycosis in amphibians, chronic wasting disease in deer, white-nose syndrome, in bats, and devil facial tumour disease in Tasmanian devils.[6]



Disease outbreaks in wild animals are sometimes controlled by killing infected individuals to prevent transmission to domestic and economically important animals.[7][8] Animal rights advocates argue against culling, as they consider individual wild animals to be intrinsically valuable and believe that they have a right to live.[9]

Vaccination programsEdit

Wild animal suffering, as a result of disease, has been drawn attention to by some authors,[10] who argue that we should alleviate this form of suffering through vaccination programs.[11][12] Such programs are also deemed beneficial for reducing the exposure of humans and domestic animals to disease and for species conservation.[13]

The oral rabies vaccine has been used successfully in multiple countries to control the spread of rabies among populations of wild animals and reduce human exposure.[14] Australia, the UK, Spain and New Zealand have all conducted successful vaccination programs to prevent Bovine Tuberculosis, by vaccinating badgers, possums and wild boar.[15]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been proposed that, in the future, wild animals could be vaccinated against coronaviruses to relieve the suffering of the affected animals, prevent disease transmission and inform future vaccination efforts.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Karesh, William B.; Dobson, Andy; Lloyd-Smith, James O.; Lubroth, Juan; Dixon, Matthew A.; Bennett, Malcolm; Aldrich, Stephen; Harrington, Todd; Formenty, Pierre; Loh, Elizabeth H.; Machalaba, Catherine C. (2012-12-01). "Ecology of zoonoses: natural and unnatural histories". The Lancet. 380 (9857): 1936–1945. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61678-X. ISSN 0140-6736. PMC 7138068. PMID 23200502.
  2. ^ Patz, Jonathan A.; Daszak, Peter; Tabor, Gary M.; Aguirre, A. Alonso; Pearl, Mary; Epstein, Jon; Wolfe, Nathan D.; Kilpatrick, A. Marm; Foufopoulos, Johannes; Molyneux, David; Bradley, David J. (July 2004). "Unhealthy Landscapes: Policy Recommendations on Land Use Change and Infectious Disease Emergence". Environmental Health Perspectives. 112 (10): 1092–1098. doi:10.1289/ehp.6877. ISSN 0091-6765. PMC 1247383. PMID 15238283.
  3. ^ Wu, Tong; Perrings, Charles; Kinzig, Ann; Collins, James P.; Minteer, Ben A.; Daszak, Peter (February 2017). "Economic growth, urbanization, globalization, and the risks of emerging infectious diseases in China: A review". Ambio. 46 (1): 18–29. doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0809-2. ISSN 0044-7447. PMC 5226902. PMID 27492678.
  4. ^ Lipkin, W. Ian (2015). "Zoonoses". Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases: 3554–3558. doi:10.1016/B978-1-4557-4801-3.00322-2. ISBN 9781455748013. PMC 7151852.
  5. ^ Smith, K. F.; Acevedo‐Whitehouse, K.; Pedersen, A. B. (2009). "The role of infectious diseases in biological conservation". Animal Conservation. 12 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2008.00228.x. ISSN 1469-1795.
  6. ^ Botzler, Richard G.; Brown, Richard N. (2014). Foundations of Wildlife Diseases. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 378. ISBN 978-0-520-27609-3.
  7. ^ Harrison, Annabel; Newey, Scott; Gilbert, Lucy; Haydon, Daniel T.; Thirgood, Simon (2010). "Culling wildlife hosts to control disease: mountain hares, red grouse and louping ill virus". Journal of Applied Ecology. 47 (4): 926–930. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01834.x. ISSN 1365-2664.
  8. ^ Cowled, Brendan D.; Garner, M. Graeme; Negus, Katherine; Ward, Michael P. (2012-01-16). "Controlling disease outbreaks in wildlife using limited culling: modelling classical swine fever incursions in wild pigs in Australia". Veterinary Research. 43 (1): 3. doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-3. ISSN 1297-9716. PMC 3311561. PMID 22243996.
  9. ^ James, Will (2014-03-06). "Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  10. ^ Tomasik, Brian (2015). "The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering". Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism. 3 (2): 133–152. doi:10.7358/rela-2015-002-toma.
  11. ^ Anthis, Jacy Reese (2015-12-14). "Wild animals endure illness, injury, and starvation. We should help". Vox. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  12. ^ Faria, Catia; Paez, Eze (2015). "Animals in Need: The Problem of Wild Animal Suffering and Intervention in Nature". Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism. 3: 7.
  13. ^ Abbott, Rachel C. (2020-02-17). "Wildlife Vaccination - Growing in Feasibility?". Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  14. ^ "Oral Rabies Vaccination". Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 2019-09-23. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  15. ^ Quellette, Cara (2018-03-03). "The Case for Wild Animal Vaccination". Nature Ethics. Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  16. ^ "Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2?". Animal Ethics. 2020-05-12. Retrieved 2020-05-17.

Further readingEdit

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