Can we transition to actionable surveillance for wildlife health: a workshop summary
In August 2022, 25 wildlife health professionals representing federal, state, tribal, academic, and non-governmental agencies gathered to discuss the goals and objectives wildlife disease surveillance in the United States.
Why this matters: The historical and current model for wildlife disease investigations in the U.S. focuses on documenting disease-associated morbidity/mortality events. These data continue to be useful for situational awareness of disease occurrence in wildlife and are regularly used to assess disease threats to humans or domestic livestock in the traditional implementation of “One Health.” They are underutilized, however, in the realm of informing direct management responses to disease in wildlife. This workshop was the kick-off of a new initiative to re-imagine wildlife disease surveillance activities and outcomes with the goal of improving long-term health of wild populations and ecosystems.
Participants discussed existing wildlife disease surveillance data collection, information streams, governance structure, goals. Participants agreed that current wildlife disease surveillance activities primarily provide situational awareness and risk communication regarding the threat diseases pose to wild animal populations, as well as early warning for the human and agricultural health sectors. The desired future state for wildlife health surveillance includes generation of information streams that more directly inform management actions aimed at reducing disease emergence and improving the long-term health of wild populations. Bridging the gap between current and desired states will undoubtedly take sustained planning, effort, and resources. Given the informal operational framework of the existing surveillance networks, participants discussed ways to leverage existing initiatives and the relationships of individuals, agencies, and regions to begin creating the new future state. Next steps being led by workshop participants include establishing a Conservation & Health Community of Practice focused on identifying pathways that more directly link wildlife surveillance with actions that prioritize the health and needs of wildlife; identifying and supporting existing initiatives within the wildlife health community that align with this vision; pursuing targeted, collaborative research; and leveraging opportunities to connect and align both within and beyond the wildlife health community. A report describing the workshop, the future vision, and pathways forward is in preparation.
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