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Training Manual on Wildlife Diseases and Surveillance
populations and human activities. Environmental managers will be concerned about the stability
and resilience of ecosystems and detection of toxic chemicals or other environmental
contaminants. In addition, the public will expect to be informed accurately and immediately,
whenever pathogens in wild animals create a significant risk to themselves, their animals or
their environment, including wildlife.
Thus, a small team of analysts and a complete communications protocol that serves the
needs of all branches of government and the public is required as a part of any surveillance
programme for wild animal pathogens.
The communications protocol should include a range of different forms of
communication, each intended to fill a particular need, as outlined in the figure above.
5. Components of a targeted wildlife pathogen surveillance programme
Targeted pathogen surveillance is done to obtain information about a particular
pathogen in a particular host animal population or community: for example, to determine if
West Nile virus is present in an area, or to determine what proportion of a population of wild
ungulates is infected with Foot and Mouth Disease. Sometimes it is done to trigger a disease
management action as soon as the pathogen is detected. Sometimes it is done to establish that a
pathogen is not present in a susceptible wild population so that a country can claim that it is free
of a particular pathogen.
Targeted surveillance differs from general surveillance in that it seeks to measure the
presence of only one pathogen and that samples sometimes can be collected according to a
statistical or probability-based sampling plan. Thus, standard epidemiological statistical
estimates and analyses can more readily be applied to the surveillance data than is the case with
general or scanning pathogen surveillance.
An important aspect of targeted surveillance is planning the way in which samples will
be collected and tested. This plan will be determined by the purpose for which the targeted
surveillance programme is being carried out. It is essential that an epidemiologist or statistician
participate in planning the sampling and testing programme so that the results will be suitable
for the kinds of analyses required. The sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic tests to be
used in the animal species included in the programme must be included in the statistical
component of the plan. Statistical sampling of wild animal populations often is compromised by
lack of the required information about the size, age and sex structure and precise geographic