Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative

Saskatoon, Canada

Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative

Saskatoon, Canada
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News Article | March 25, 2016
Site: phys.org

While wildlife enriches daily life, strengthens ecosystems and attracts visitors, it can also damage crops and carry disease. Densely populated and rapidly changing places such as Sri Lanka – where human settlements, domestic animals and wildlife mingle closely – need effective ways to manage these benefits and risks. Recent epidemics have shown the critical role that wildlife health monitoring can play. But like many low- and middle-income countries, Sri Lanka lacks the needed infrastructure and expertise. Since 2011, Sri Lanka has had its own national wildlife health centre, co-managed by three government agencies and the University of Peradeniya, and mentored by the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. With support from Canada's International Development Research Centre, a four-year collaboration between the University of Peradeniya and the University of Saskatchewan now aims to build the expertise needed for a national program of research and surveillance to help detect and manage health issues linked to interactions between wildlife and humans. Research co-leader Dr Ted Leighton stresses the need to go beyond cataloguing wildlife and disease. "The human and social dimensions of managing health issues at the human-wildlife interface are severely neglected," he says. "Finding pathogens is relatively easy. The key is knowing how to communicate, educate and motivate risk-reducing behavioural change in human communities at risk." In a first phase of the research, the team identified six study sites where local communities live near protected areas. The sites represent a range of wildlife habitats and agro-ecological conditions. Researchers worked with villagers – including indigenous Adivasi or Vedda communities – to explore their beliefs, perceptions and contact with wild animals and to identify related conflicts or health risks. These explorations showed that, while some misconceptions exist, villagers are quite knowledgeable about the risks of transmittable diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis and Japanese encephalitis. Some villages raised concerns that merit further investigation, such as abnormal jackal behaviour and cases of anaemic sambar deer. The chief aim, however, is to build a critical mass of Sri Lankan scientists able to bridge animal and human health and development. According to Dr Oswin Perera, director of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Health Centre, "The project is making an important contribution to training, capacity building and networking among staff and students from the university and government agencies." Graduate students in veterinary and social sciences are taking part in the research and gaining expertise in areas such as veterinary pathology, epidemiology and community dynamics. Government officials and field staff from the wildlife, veterinary, human health and administrative sectors are helping to set project priorities, taking part in research and incorporating their new capacity in wildlife health into their programs. While building expertise in Sri Lanka, the joint effort is developing organisational models and training and evaluation tools for wildlife health research that may help other countries grappling with emerging diseases and increasing land use conflicts.


Burns T.E.,Center for Coastal Health | Stephen C.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
EcoHealth | Year: 2015

The need to adequately predict, prevent and respond to infectious diseases emerging unexpectedly from human–animal–environmental systems has driven interest in multisectoral, socio-economic, systems-based, collaborative (MSC) research approaches such as EcoHealth and One Health. Our goals were to document how MSC research has been used to address EIDs in Asia, and to explore how MSC approaches align with current priorities for EID research in Asia. We gathered priorities for EID research from the peer-reviewed and grey literature, documented organizational descriptions of MCS research approaches, and analysed a series of EID MSC projects. We found that priority areas for EID research in Asia included (1) understanding host-pathogen-environment interactions; (2) improving tools and technologies; (3) changing people’s behaviour; and (4) evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. We found that the unifying characteristics of MSC research were that it was action-oriented and sought to inspire change under real-world conditions at the complex interface of human and natural systems. We suggest that MSC research can be considered a type of ‘pragmatic research’ and might be most useful in describing change in complex human–animal–environmental systems, accelerating research-to-action, and evaluating effectiveness of interventions in ‘real world’ settings. © 2015, International Association for Ecology and Health.


Stephen C.,Center for Coastal Health | Stephen C.,University of Calgary | Stephen C.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2014

There has been, to date, little discussion about the defining features and measures of wildlife health in the literature or legislation. Much wildlife health work focuses on the detection and response to infectious or parasitic diseases; this perspective has been reinforced by the focus of the One Health initiative on wildlife as sources of emerging infections. The definition of health as "the absence of disease" lags 70 yr behind modern concepts of human health and emerging concepts of wildlife health in terms of vulnerability, resilience, and sustainability. Policies, programs, and research that focus on the integration of wildlife health with natural resource conservation, ecosystem restoration, and public health need a working definition of health that recognizes the major threats to fish and wildlife are the result of many other drivers besides pathogens and parasites, including habitat loss, globalization of trade, land-use pressure, and climate change. A modern definition of wildlife health should emphasize that 1) health is the result of interacting biologic, social, and environmental determinants that interact to affect capacity to cope with change; 2) health cannot be measured solely by what is absent but rather by characteristics of the animals and their ecosystem that affect their vulnerability and resilience; and 3) wildlife health is not a biologic state but rather a dynamic social construct based on human expectations and knowledge. © Wildlife Disease Association 2014.


PubMed | Center for Coastal Health and Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
Type: Journal Article | Journal: EcoHealth | Year: 2016

The need to adequately predict, prevent and respond to infectious diseases emerging unexpectedly from human-animal-environmental systems has driven interest in multisectoral, socio-economic, systems-based, collaborative (MSC) research approaches such as EcoHealth and One Health. Our goals were to document how MSC research has been used to address EIDs in Asia, and to explore how MSC approaches align with current priorities for EID research in Asia. We gathered priorities for EID research from the peer-reviewed and grey literature, documented organizational descriptions of MCS research approaches, and analysed a series of EID MSC projects. We found that priority areas for EID research in Asia included (1) understanding host-pathogen-environment interactions; (2) improving tools and technologies; (3) changing peoples behaviour; and (4) evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. We found that the unifying characteristics of MSC research were that it was action-oriented and sought to inspire change under real-world conditions at the complex interface of human and natural systems. We suggest that MSC research can be considered a type of pragmatic research and might be most useful in describing change in complex human-animal-environmental systems, accelerating research-to-action, and evaluating effectiveness of interventions in real world settings.


Verocai G.G.,University of South Florida | Verocai G.G.,University of Calgary | Verocai G.G.,University of Georgia | Conboy G.,College of the Atlantic | And 10 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2016

The Onchocerca lupi nematode is an emerging helminth capable of infecting pets and humans. We detected this parasite in 2 dogs that were imported into Canada from the southwestern United States, a region to which this nematode is endemic. We discuss risk for establishment of O. lupi in Canada. © 2016, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All rights reserved.


Chapinal N.,University of British Columbia | Schumaker B.A.,University of Wyoming | Joly D.O.,Metabiota | Elkin B.T.,Natural Resources Canada | Stephen C.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2015

We estimated the sensitivity and specificity of the caudal-fold skin test (CFT), the fluorescent polarization assay (FPA), and the rapid lateral-flow test (RT) for the detection of Mycobacterium bovis in free-ranging wild wood bison (Bison bison athabascae), in the absence of a gold standard, by using Bayesian analysis, and then used those estimates to forecast the performance of a pairwise combination of tests in parallel. In 1998–99, 212 wood bison from Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada) were tested for M. bovis infection using CFT and two serologic tests (FPA and RT). The sensitivity and specificity of each test were estimated using a three-test, one-population, Bayesian model allowing for conditional dependence between FPA and RT. The sensitivity and specificity of the combination of CFT and each serologic test in parallel were calculated assuming conditional independence. The test performance estimates were influenced by the prior values chosen. However, the rank of tests and combinations of tests based on those estimates remained constant. The CFT was the most sensitive test and the FPA was the least sensitive, whereas RT was the most specific test and CFT was the least specific. In conclusion, given the fact that gold standards for the detection of M. bovis are imperfect and difficult to obtain in the field, Bayesian analysis holds promise as a tool to rank tests and combinations of tests based on their performance. Combining a skin test with an animal-side serologic test, such as RT, increases sensitivity in the detection of M. bovis and is a good approach to enhance disease eradication or control in wild bison. © Wildlife Disease Association 2015.


PubMed | University of Winnipeg, Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Saskatchewan and University of New Hampshire
Type: Comparative Study | Journal: EcoHealth | Year: 2016

White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans and has killed millions of hibernating bats in North America but the pathophysiology of the disease remains poorly understood. Our objectives were to (1) assess non-destructive diagnostic methods for P. destructans infection compared to histopathology, the current gold-standard, and (2) to evaluate potential metrics of disease severity. We used data from three captive inoculation experiments involving 181 little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) to compare histopathology, quantitative PCR (qPCR), and ultraviolet fluorescence as diagnostic methods of P. destructans infection. To assess disease severity, we considered two histology metrics (wing area with fungal hyphae, area of dermal necrosis), P. destructans fungal load (qPCR), ultraviolet fluorescence, and blood chemistry (hematocrit, sodium, glucose, pCO2, and bicarbonate). Quantitative PCR was most effective for early detection of P. destructans, while all three methods were comparable in severe infections. Correlations among hyphae and necrosis scores, qPCR, ultraviolet fluorescence, blood chemistry, and hibernation duration indicate a multi-stage pattern of disease. Disruptions of homeostasis occurred rapidly in late hibernation. Our results provide valuable information about the use of non-destructive techniques for monitoring, and provide novel insight into the pathophysiology of white-nose syndrome, with implications for developing and implementing potential mitigation strategies.


Nemeth N.M.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative | Nemeth N.M.,University of Guelph | Campbell G.D.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative | Oesterle P.T.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative | And 5 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2016

Blastomyces dermatitidis, a fungus that can cause fatal infection in humans and other mammals, is not readily recoverable from soil, its environmental reservoir. Because of the red fox’s widespread distribution, susceptibility to B. dermatitidis, close association with soil, and well-defined home ranges, this animal has potential utility as a sentinel for this fungus. © 2016, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All rights reserved.


Stephen C.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative | Zimmer P.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
Global Ecology and Conservation | Year: 2015

Investment in wild animal health has not kept pace with investment in health programs for agriculture or people. Previous arguments of the inherent value of wildlife or the possible public health or economic consequences of fish or terrestrial wildlife diseases have failed to motivate sufficient, sustained funding. Wildlife health programs are often funded on an issue-by-issue basis, most often in response to diseases that have already emerged, rather than being funded to protect and promote the health of wild animals on an ongoing basis. We propose that one explanation for this situation is the lack of business cases that explains the value of wild animal health programs to funders. This paper proposes a set of building blocks that inform the creation of wildlife health business cases. The building blocks are a series of questions derived from a literature review, the experience of directors of two large national wildlife health programs and lessons learned in developing a draft business case for one of those programs. The six building blocks are: (1) Know what you are trying to achieve; (2) Describe your capabilities; (3) Identify factors critical to your success; (4) Describe the value you can bring to supporters; (5) Identify who needs your services and why; and (6) Share the plan. © 2015 The Authors.


Forzan M.J.,Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative | Forzan M.J.,University of Prince Edward Island | Jones K.M.,University of Prince Edward Island | Vanderstichel R.V.,University of Prince Edward Island | And 7 more authors.
Journal of General Virology | Year: 2015

Amphibian populations suffer massive mortalities from infection with frog virus 3 (FV3, genus Ranavirus, family Iridoviridae), a pathogen also involved in mortalities of fish and reptiles. Experimental oral infection with FV3 in captive-raised adult wood frogs, Rana sylvatica (Lithobates sylvaticus), was performed as the first step in establishing a native North American animal model of ranaviral disease to study pathogenesis and host response. Oral dosing was successful; LD50 was 102.93 (2.42–3.44) p.f.u. for frogs averaging 35 mm in length. Onset of clinical signs occurred 6–14 days post-infection (p.i.) (median 11 days p.i.) and time to death was 10–14 days p.i. (median 12 days p.i.). Each tenfold increase in virus dose increased the odds of dying by 23-fold and accelerated onset of clinical signs and death by approximately 15%. Ranavirus DNA was demonstrated in skin and liver of all frogs that died or were euthanized because of severe clinical signs. Shedding of virus occurred in faeces (7–10 days p.i.; 3–4.5 days before death) and skin sheds (10 days p.i.; 0–1.5 days before death) of some frogs dead from infection. Most common lesions were dermal erosion and haemorrhages; haematopoietic necrosis in bone marrow, kidney, spleen and liver; and necrosis in renal glomeruli, tongue, gastrointestinal tract and urinary bladder mucosa. Presence of ranavirus in lesions was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (probably viral) were present in the bone marrow and the epithelia of the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, renal tubules and urinary bladder. Our work describes a ranavirus–wood frog model and provides estimates that can be incorporated into ranavirus disease ecology models. © 2015 The Authors.

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