The National Wildlife Disease Program (NWDP) promotes safe agricultural trade by protecting the health of humans, animals, plants and ecosystems to reduce the levels of incurred losses to agricultural and natural resources.
NWDP participates in wildlife disease monitoring and surveillance in all regions of the United States. The program's Wildlife Disease Biologists (WDBs) act as WS' first responders through NWDP's Surveillance and Emergency Response System (SERS). Additionally, NWDP collaborates with non-governmental organizations and officials from other countries to promote and assist in the development of wildlife disease monitoring programs worldwide.
NWDP is involved in disease management, research, disease surveillance, emergency response, education and outreach for diseases of feral swine. There are around 4 million feral swine in the United States today. These animals, weighing in at up to 400 lbs., are non-native to the US and are considered invasive. They can be reservoirs of disease and may act as a host to a number of parasites, leaving the United States domestic swine industry vulnerable to disease.
Feral Swine Diseases
Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic bacterial disease (primarily of cattle) caused by the microorganism, Mycobacterium bovis. The disease can affect other species, including humans and wildlife. Bovine TB is most often transmitted to humans by inhalation of aerosolized respiratory tract bacteria, ingestion of unpasteurized milk, and inoculation by contaminated instruments (such as knives).
The National Wildlife Disease Program has been collecting samples from wild birds for surveillance since 2006. Initially, the primary focus was highly pathogenic avian influenza, a disease that can affect humans and domestic poultry. Since then, the focus has moved to monitoring a number of avian pathogens that could have a potential impact on domestic poultry, human health and other wild bird species.
Plague has been identified as a disease of concern to human, wildlife and domestic animal populations within the United States. It is also considered a "Category A" disease by the Department of Homeland Security, meaning it could potentially be used as a bioterrorist agent.
Tularemia has been identified as a disease of concern to human, wildlife and domestic animal populations within the United States. It, like plague, is considered a "Category A" disease by the Department of Homeland Security, meaning it could potentially be used as a bioterrorist agent.
Surveillance and Emergency Response System (SERS)
APHIS is an emergency response agency that operates under the National Response Framework (NRF), a comprehensive guide on how the nation deals with emergencies. The NRF outlines how federal, state, tribal and local governments, along with the private sector, coordinate emergency response efforts. This framework recognizes distinct support functions that may be needed during an emergency/disaster event or incident. These Emergency Support Functions (ESF) include categories such as transportation, communications and public health/medical services.