Identifying and Defining a Disease

  • Gary A. Wobeser


There are many reasons for investigating disease in wildlife but, in simplest terms, these usually resolve to some combination of: is disease present?, what is causing it?, and what effect is it having? In some cases, there may be a marked urgency to the study, as when it is necessary to determine the cause of a major outbreak of disease so that control measures can be instituted. In other instances, one can take a more leisurely approach, as when there is a need to assess if some disease factor is associated with an observed change in a population or to assess the significance of some potential risk factor, such as an agricultural pesticide. Regardless of the reason for the study, an early step in any investigation is to define the problem to be investigated as precisely as possible. Objectives in defining the disease are to identify those features that distinguish the particular disease from all others, to clearly delimit current knowledge about the disease, to identify questions about the disease that need to be answered, and to determine those methods that will be most likely to yield pertinent answers. Definition of a disease must be looked upon as a dynamic process that is modified continually as new information is obtained. In the early stages of an investigation, the definition will often be very general, but it should become increasingly precise as the investigation proceeds.


Spray Application Work Hypo Thesis Calendar Date Sarcoptic Mange Grey Partridge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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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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