Diseases shared between wildlife and livestock: a European perspective
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Wildlife diseases are in fashion. This is creating an explosion of related knowledge. Despite this, the dynamics of both wildlife and diseases and the changes in livestock and wildlife management make it increasingly difficult to overview the current situation of wildlife diseases in Europe. This paper aims to discuss the available management possibilities and to highlight current research priorities. One area that causes severe concern to authorities is diseases largely under control in domestic populations but still existing as a reservoir in wildlife. Multihost situations are also of concern for wildlife management and conservation, as diseases can affect the productivity and density of wildlife populations with an economic or recreational value. Concern about emerging diseases is rising in recent years, and these may well occur at the fertile livestock–wildlife interface. Wildlife-related zoonoses are a diverse and complex issue that requires a close collaboration between wildlife ecologists, veterinarians and public health professionals. A few risk factors can be identified in most of the relevant wildlife diseases. Among them are (1) the introduction of diseases through movements or translocations of wild or domestic animals, (2) the consequences of wildlife overabundance, (3) the risks of open air livestock breeding, (4) vector expansion and (5) the expansion or introduction of hosts. Wildlife disease control requires the integration of veterinary, ecology and wildlife management expertise. In addition to surveillance, attempts to control wildlife diseases or to avoid disease transmission between wildlife and livestock have been based on setting up barriers, culling, hygienic measures, habitat management, vector control, treatments and vaccination. Surveillance and descriptive studies are still valuable in regions, species or diseases that have received less attention or are (at least apparently) emerging. Nonetheless, limiting the research effort to the mere reporting of wildlife disease outbreaks is of limited value if management recommendations are not given at the same time. Thus, more experimental approaches are needed to produce substantial knowledge that enables authorities to make targeted management recommendations. This requires policy makers to be more aware of the value of science and to provide extra-funding for the establishment of multidisciplinary scientific teams.