Wildlife Disease Data Surveillance and Analysis
University of Minnesota
Overall Project Outcome and Results
Wildlife is an integral part of the complex interrelationship between human, animal, and environmental health, yet there is no centralized system for collection of wildlife health data. The study of wildlife health is limited by the logistics and expenses involved with sample acquisition. Wildlife rehabilitation centers represent an untapped resource as they admit a larger number of wild animals with a greater variety of species than any other resource.
This project developed a centralized database for tracking morbidity and mortality of wildlife seen in wildlife rehabilitation centers in Minnesota. A central goal was the development of standardized terminology, a critical step in the ability to integrate data from multiple rehabilitation centers. Initially, a survey was designed and distributed to ascertain current practices for clinical wildlife health data management. Next, a series of workshops was held with experts in the field of wildlife health to define data sets for signalment, animal recovery information, cause of admission and initial clinical signs. The animal recovery and signalment descriptors were used to integrate 10 years of historical data from Minnesota's two largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities. This established baseline data for normal patterns of wildlife admissions and created a preliminary GIS and web-based information system. A pilot project involving six wildlife hospitals focusing on avian species susceptible to lead poisoning, was begun to evaluate the functionality of the circumstances of admission, clinical signs and pathophysiological diagnosis terminology. This project is ongoing.
The results of this project were instrumental in the creation of a template for wildlife health data reporting and the development of a system for surveillance of wildlife health issues. This information will be important for wildlife conservation projects, wildlife management, disease surveillance, and as an indicator of ecosystem health. The data can be accessed through the new web site, http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/cwhi/, or by contacting The Raptor Center.
Project Results Use and Dissemination
The information resulting from this project has already been used to inform the development of a wildlife health reporting system being developed by the Wildlife Center of Virginia and to be distributed to wildlife rehabilitation centers around the country. A secondary outcome of this project, the development of a collaborative group called the Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative, has resulted in the expansion of this work to a national level. Discussions are underway on the potential use of this information in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service permitting process for rehabilitation center reporting, as well as the use of the new system for long-term monitoring at rehabilitation centers along the Gulf Coast as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
For more information, visit http://www.lccmr.leg.mn/all_projects/2008_projects.html.