Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative

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Clinical Wildlife Medicine

The Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative (CWHI) is the result of collaboration between the wildlife rehabilitation community, wildlife regulatory agencies, and wildlife health professionals. It is estimated that ~500,000 wild animals are presented to over 5,000 wildlife care centers annually. These animals represent an untapped source of information on a vast and diverse array of wild animals across the country. This information can extend our knowledge and understanding of wildlife and environmental health issues including emerging infectious diseases, toxicants, climate change, and other environmental threats.

Why One Health is important

‘One Health’ is an approach that integrates human, domestic and wild animal, and environmental health for the benefit of humans, animals and the world we share. It is well recognized that wildlife can serve as biosentinels for emerging diseases such as West Nile virus infection and serve as pathogen reservoirs for diseases in humans, livestock and poultry. Currently there is no comprehensive, integrated national strategy for the monitoring or surveillance of wildlife health issues in the United States; and yet there is an increasing need for wildlife health data. Wildlife care centers already collect and report some data for administrative purposes. The sharing of this data on a broader scale will add robustness to wildlife and environmental data, and advance public policy and public health strategies.

Goals

  • To develop tools and strategies for monitoring wildlife and environmental health data from wildlife admitted to professionally staffed rehabilitation centers
  • To create liaisons between individuals and organizations involved in wildlife health, facilitate research and access to biomaterials, and to report out on those efforts

Current projects include standardized data sets and terminology, a database of literature resulting from wildlife rehabilitation, and emergency preparedness and response for the managed wildlife community.

For more information, please contact Michelle Willette at wille203@umn.edu