Six recommendations for improving monitoring of diseases shared with wildlife: examples regarding mycobacterial infections in Spain
Monitoring is needed to identify changes in disease occurrence and to measure the impact of intervention. Using mycobacterial diseases as an example, we discuss herein the pros and cons of the current Spanish Wildlife Disease Surveillance Scheme providing suggestions for monitoring relevant diseases shared with wildlife in other regions facing similar challenges. Six points should be considered. This includes: (1) making sure the disease is properly monitored in the relevant domestic animals or even in humans; (2) also making sure that background information on wildlife population ecology is available to maximize the benefits of the monitoring effort; (3) selecting the appropriate wildlife hosts for monitoring, while being flexible enough to incorporate new ones if research suggests their participation; (4) selecting the appropriate methods for diagnosis and for time and space trend analysis; (5) deciding which parameters to target for monitoring; and finally (6) establishing a reasonable sampling effort and a suitable sampling stratification to ensure detecting changes over time and changes in response to management actions. Wildlife disease monitoring produces knowledge that benefits at least three different agencies, namely, animal health, public health and conservation, and these should combine efforts and resources. Setting up stable, comprehensive and accurate schemes at different spatial scales should become a priority. Resources are always a limiting factor, but experience shows that combined, cross-collaborative efforts allow establishing acceptable schemes with a low enough cost to be sustainable over time. These six steps for monitoring relevant shared diseases can be adapted to many other geographical settings and different disease situations.