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Wildlife is considered the biggest source of emerging pathogens threatening human health. This threat has been highlighted by the emergence of pathogens causing high human mortality such as SARS coronavirus and ebola virus disease.

The recent emergence of these highly pathogenic organisms is related to the changing dynamics between people and wildlife. Changing land use, agricultural intensification, increased population, encroachment of wild spaces, harvesting wildlife for food and the movement of people and animals around the world have changed interactions between people and wild animals.

In order to address these issues we need to:

  • Identify the pathogens and their evolution
  • Identify the host and the host niche and how this is changing
  • Understand the behaviours and practices of people that promote transmission

The next emerging disease is likely to be from a wildlife host therefore increased research to describe pathogens in wildlife reservoirs is required to predict forthcoming threats to human health.

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