The National Wildlife Disease Program (NWDP) provides leadership in disease monitoring, surveillance and emergency response programs which safeguard American human health, agriculture and natural resources through domestic and international collaboration.
The National Wildlife Disease Program is based on a strategic premise that safeguarding the health of humans, animals, plants and ecosystems makes safe agricultural trade possible and reduces losses to agricultural and natural resources. Active surveillance allows for a better understanding of select wildlife diseases and enhances the ability to respond to disease outbreaks in wildlife and domestic animals, as well as to prevent disease threats to humans.
The program has 44 Wildlife Disease Biologist (WDBs) positions located across the country. WDBs conduct surveillance activities in all 50 states and act as Wildlife Services' first responders in cases of emergency, as part of NWDP's Surveillance and Emergency Response System (SERS). As part of their everyday duties, WDBs participate in avian influenza surveillance, as well as other disease monitoring and control activities that are of particular interest and concern in their designated regions. These diseases include the following:
- highly-pathogenic avian influenza
- classical swine fever
- swine brucellosis
- bovine tuberculosis
- West Nile virus
- chronic wasting disease
- foot and mouth disease
- Johne's disease
- Lyme disease
NWDP facilitates and assists state, federal, tribal and international agencies, as well as private cooperators, with local disease monitoring and nationally-coordinated wildlife surveillance systems. These nationally-coordinated systems focus on sample collection, information exchange, laboratory support and monitoring of diseases of concern to national biosecurity. WDBs work closely with other Wildlife Services personnel within their assigned state.
Key collaborators include the following agencies:
These important partnerships allow for the gathering of basic information on wildlife diseases in the United States; safer trade in agricultural products within the US and abroad; and quick and effective emergency response to natural disasters, bioterrorist threats and wildlife disease outbreaks.
Thomas Gidlewski, DVM
National Wildlife Research Center
4101 Laporte Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80521