European Wildlife Disease Association
The EWDA is a partner organization of the WDA

The European Wildlife Disease Association (EWDA) seeks to provide a forum for the exchange of information on wildlife diseases and their management. Through the provision of opportunities for networking, collaborative research and training we seek to raise the profile of wildlife disease research and management. 


Latest News

  • WVA/WMA global conference on One Health wil be held on May 21-22, 2015. More information can be found on the website.

  • The latest EWDA newsletter (Winter 2015), put together by our new editorial tea, Lidewij Wiersma and Paul Duff, is now available!

  • The book "Hunting hygiene", written by Sauli Laaksonen and Peter Paulsen is now available! According to the website of the publisher, 'Hunting hygiene' is an internationally unparalleled textbHunting hygieneook introducing the basics of hunting hygiene. This concept includes the basic biology and ecology of game animals as well as game animal diseases and their causes. An important part of hunting hygiene is the identification and assessment of pathological alterations and the possible risks for humans caused by animal diseases, and how these risks can be diminished. Risk control begins with the practice of environmental and game animal management, animal health and hunting dog health care. Other essential parts of the subject are hunting methods, correct practices in game handling, slaughterhouse hygiene and safe preparation methods of game in the kitchen. 'Hunting hygiene' presents the tools to detect and assess diseases in game animals and the universally applicable principles of hygiene during hunting and handling meat from wild game, illustrated by numerous examples. 

BRUSSELS (December 5, 2014) – The use of the veterinary pharmaceutical diclofenac in Spain is placing Europe’s vulture populations at risk and should be banned, according to a paper published by a team of veterinarians and biologists in the journal Science this week. Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, has already been banned for veterinary use in several South Asian countries, but was recently approved for use in Spain and Italy. Traces of diclofenac in livestock carcasses are lethal to vultures who eat them, and contamination of fewer than 1% of dead animals led to the near extinction of three Asian species. Most vultures in Europe are already endangered and thus particularly vulnerable to this threat. The paper, “One Health approach to use of veterinary pharmaceuticals,” argues that as the world’s consumption of meat continues to rise, we must take a holistic approach to assessing the impacts of veterinary pharmaceuticals (VPs) that accounts for all environmental effects, including contamination of the natural food chain.


    9:14am EST; PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - More money needs to be spent on detecting disease in domestic and wild animals, an intergovernmental group said on Wednesday, following a series of bird flu outbreaks and previous mutations of animal viruses into ones that can be passed between humans. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said governments had cut funding after previous health crises had abated, and needed to reconsider that decision in that light of recent outbreaks.


    "Resources have been affected to other priorities. We must come back to appropriate levels to have an early detection of cases," OIE Director General Bernard Vallat told Reuters. Vallat said animal producers, hunters, anglers and other users of the natural environment were also key players in early detection of viruses with whom it was important to cooperate.


    Germany, the Netherlands and Britain have reported cases in recent weeks of the highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N8, which is similar to one found in Asia earlier this year that led in South Korea to a massive culling of poultry flocks. Canada said on Tuesday bird flu had killed thousands of turkeys and chickens in the province of British Columbia. That virus type was identified as H5 but the precise variant remained unclear.


    The H5N8 strain - as opposed to the H5N1 strain that sparked a health crisis a few years ago -- has never been detected in humans. But the Paris-based OIE warned influenza viruses could mutate, giving Ebola as an example. Ebola was initially transmitted to humans by a wild animal before turning into a human-to-human pandemic, Vallat said. The disease had killed over 6,000 people worldwide by the end of last month, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show.


    "All influenza viruses can mutate," Vallat said. "We need to be vigilant on the ground to quickly detect bird flu cases and avoid a spread of the virus ... and we need to monitor in labs any genetic change that could be worrying for humans."


    The OIE said 75 percent of new human diseases were derived from pathogens transmitted by animals, whether domestic or wild.

     (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by Mark Potter)

  • EWDA statement: rapid intensification of wild bird surveillance in Europe needed in response to recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N8.

In November 2014, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N8 was detected within a period of just a few weeks on poultry farms in Germany, The Netherlands, and the U.K. In the same period, HPAIV H5N8 was reported in apparently healthy wild birds on both sides of the Eurasian continent: in Bewick's (or tundra) swans (Cygnus colombianus) and unspecified waterbirds (Anatidae) in Japan, and in a Eurasian teal (Anas crecca) in Germany. Preliminary phylogenetic analysis of the virus isolates from these different geographic locations indicates that they are closely related, and belong to the clade This suggests that wild waterbirds may well have a role in the spread of HPAIV H5N8. Of course, incursion of HPAIV H5N8 also may occur via other routes, such as movement of poultry, poultry products, and contaminated vehicles, equipment or personnel. Only by combined attention to all possible routes can the incursion of HPAIV H5N8 be prevented. Adequate surveillance of wild waterbirds in Europe, in collaboration with responsible national authorities, is therefore critical as part of an early warning system for the incursion of this pathogen. Influenza surveillance of wild waterbirds has decreased by an average of 90% in the EU since 2007/2008; rapid intensification of this surveillance is now needed. Surveillance should include both wild birds that are apparently healthy and those have been found dead. This surveillance should be conducted by existing wildlife health surveillance networks as much as possible rather than establishing parallel networks that will break down again after this emergency is over. This is the only way to build up a long-term wildlife health surveillance network in Europe.

 Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac is considered to be the primary cause of the loss of more than 99% of vultures on the Indian subcontinent. This drug has been shown to cause severe nephrotoxic effects in a number of vulture species. Vultures are exposed to diclofenac through the consumption of carcasses of livestock which have been treated with this drug, and many of the affected vultures die acutely. An important aspect of the problem is that contamination of even a very small percentage of livestock carcasses is sufficient to cause a rapid decline in vulture populations. In response to these findings, a ban was issued on the veterinary use of diclofenac in the region. Evidence suggests that rate of decline of vulture populations has now slowed or ceased. 

 Diclofenac has been licensed for use in Italy, and more recently in Spain. This is of particular concern for the European vulture populations, as 95% of Europe's vultures reside in Spain, and include the griffon, bearded, Egyptian and cinereous vultures. All are rare species which are protected by EU law. Additionally, diclofenac may be toxic to other avian scavengers such as eagles. In Spain there may be a particular risk of exposure to nephrotoxic levels of diclofenac from feeding on carcasses at ‘muladares’; these are traditional locations where farmers bring their dead livestock in order to feed vultures and other scavenging birds. 

In view of diclofenac’s proven toxicity to avian scavengers, and the availability of alternative NSAIDs which are not toxic to birds, the EWDA strongly supports a ban on the veterinary use of diclofenac throughout Europe.

  • New EWDA Bulletin (2014) available here

  • New available documents:
    • Proceedings of the 1st APHAEA Consultation Workshop. "Harmonized Approaches in
      monitoring wildlife Population Health, And Ecology and Abundance”. Brescia, Italy, 27-28 June 2013. Available here.
    • Presentations from the Workshop on African Swine Fever on Wild Boar that was held from 6 to 7 March 2014 at Uppsala, Sweden. It was organized in response to the recent incursion of African swine fever (ASF) into the European Union, namely in Lithuania and Poland. The organizers were the Wildlife Disease Association (European and Nordic sections) together with the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA). Despite the short notice, over 80 people from 17 European countries participated in the workshop. The expertise of the participants ranged from virology, pathology, and epidemiology to wildlife ecology, wildlife health, vaccinology, and mathematical modelling.
      The particiapants represented veterinary institutes, reference laboratories for ASF, animal health authorities, food safety authorities, wildlife health centres, and universities at the national level, as well as the European Commission (DG-SANCO and EFSA) and the OIE (ASF reference laboratory, Wildlife Health Working Group) at the international level. As well, hunters' associations, the food industry, the livestock industry, vaccine manufacturers, and private veterinary practitioners were represented. Available here.
    • Scientific Report of the European Food Safety Authority: "Evaluation of possible mitigation measures to prevent introduction and spread of African swine fever virus through wild boar". Available here.
  • The Wildlife Data Integration Network, a program at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine is working on a cooperative agreement with the USFWS Avian Health and Disease Program in the Southeast Region. As part of their agreement, they are reaching out to the wildlife community to try to make people aware of the Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER), www.wher.org, a publicly available wildlife health surveillance and communication tool. Learn more about the WHER in this document.

  • The book Infectious Diseases of Wild Mammals and Birds in Europe, edited by Dolores Gavier-Widen, Anna Meredith and Paul Duff and published by Wiley, is now available. From the website of the publisher: "Infectious Diseases of Wild Mammals and Birds in Europe" is a key resource on the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases in European wildlife that covers the distinctive nature of diseases as they occur in Europe, including strains, insect vectors, reservoir species, and climate, as well as geographical distribution of the diseases and European regulations for reporting, diagnosis and control. Divided into sections on viral infections, bacterial infections, fungal and yeast infections, and prion infections, this definitive reference provides valuable information on disease classification and properties, causative agents, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and implications for human, domestic and wild animal health. 
 • Brings together extensive research from many different disciplines into one integrated and highly 
useful definitive reference.
 • Zoonotic risks to human health, as well as risks to pets and livestock are highlighted
 • Each disease is covered separately with practical information on the animal species in which the disease has been recorded, clinical signs of the disease, diagnostic methods, and recommended treatments and vaccination.
 • Wildlife vaccination and disease surveillance techniques are described.
 • Examines factors important in the spread of disease such as changing climate, the movement of animals through trade, and relaxations in the control of wide animal populations.
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