U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Pandemic Influenza Viruses: Science, Surveillance and Public Health. Edited by S. K. Majuilldar. F. J. Brenner, J.E. Huffman, R.G. McLean, A.I. Panah, P.J. Pietrobon, S. P. Keeler and S. E. Shive. 2011. The Pennsylvania Academy of Science.


It is generally recognized that countries conducting comprehensive disease surveillance in wildlife populations are more likely to understand the epidemiology of specific infectious pathogens and zoonotic disease outbreaks (1, 2). These countries are better equipped and prepared to develop solutions that will protect humans, agriculture, and wildlife. Consequently, active surveillance for diseases of animal or public health concern in wildlife is particularly beneficial to national and international interests. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) encourages all countries to develop and maintain wildlife disease surveillance systems, which complement and support human health and agricultural animal disease programs. These systems should be capable of detecting unusual disease events, involve proficient diagnostic laboratories and international reference laboratories, use molecular characterization tools, and have communication protocols in place for rep0l1ing results (3).

Disease surveillance systems should be designed to systematically collect relevant ecological and health-related data on the species of concern, efficiently assimilate and analyze data, and disseminate results of the analysis in an appropriate time frame to decision makers so that management actions can be rapidly implemented. It is this latter characteristic that distinguishes surveillance systems from the more commonly implemented monitoring systems in the study of wildlife diseases. Monitoring systems are developed to assess the health and disease status of a population and often are used to increase understanding of pathogens and their epidemiology in the environment. Alternatively, disease surveillance systems are more active by definition and incorporate thresholds for disease prevalence or incidence, above which, predefined management actions will be implemented (4, 5). Effective monitoring and surveillance systems (MOSS) form the foundation of all animal health programs and the most important component in strategies for preventing emerging infectious diseases.