Disease and Epizootiology — Basic Principles

  • Gary A. Wobeser


The concept of disease is surprisingly difficult to define in terms that are sufficiently broad for application to the wide range of conditions that occur in free-ranging wild animals, and that are still sufficiently narrow to separate disease from other factors, such as predation, that effect wildlife negatively. Disease might be defined as any departure from health, but this leads to a circular discussion of the meaning of health and normality. Disease in wild animals is often considered only in terms of death or obvious physical disability, probably because these are readily identified parameters. However, the effect of disease on wild populations may be much greater than is evident by simply counting the dead or maimed, even if it were possible to do so accurately. The impact of DDT and certain other chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides on some raptorial and piscivorous birds provides an excellent illustration of this fact. These compounds have low direct toxicity and rarely resulted in the death of birds or in obvious clinical signs of intoxication, yet they had profound population effects through decreased recruitment as a result of increased egg breakage.


Wild Animal Duck Viral Enteritis Mule Deer Wildlife Disease Piscivorous Bird 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary A. Wobeser
    • 1
  1. 1.Western College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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