Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Ryan S. Miller, Matthew L. Farnsworth, Jennifer L. Malmberg. 2013. Diseases at the livestock–wildlife interface: Status, challenges, and opportunities in the United States. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 110, 119-132.


US Government work.


In the last half century, significant attention has been given to animal diseases; however, our understanding of disease processes and how to manage them at the livestock–wildlife interface remains limited. In this study, we conduct a systematic review of the scientific literature to evaluate the status of diseases at the livestock–wildlife interface in the United States. Specifically, the goals of the literature review were three fold: first to evaluate domestic animal diseases currently found in the United States where wildlife may play a role; second to identify critical issues faced in managing these diseases at the livestock–wildlife interface; and third to identify potential technical and policy strategies for addressing these issues. We found that of the 86 avian, ruminant, swine, poultry, and lagomorph diseases that are reportable to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), 53 are present in the United States; 42 (79%) of these have a putative wildlife component associated with the transmission, maintenance, or life cycle of the pathogen; and 21 (40%) are known to be zoonotic. At least six of these reportable diseases—bovine tuberculosis, paratuberculosis, brucellosis, avian influenza, rabies, and cattle fever tick (vector control)—have a wildlife reservoir that is a recognized impediment to eradication in domestic populations. The complex nature of these systems highlights the need to understand the role of wildlife in the epidemiology, transmission, and maintenance of infectious diseases of livestock. Successful management or eradication of these diseases will require the development of cross-discipline and institutional collaborations. Despite social and policy challenges, there remain opportunities to develop new collaborations and new technologies to mitigate the risks posed at the livestock–wildlife interface.