University Based Wildlife Disease Surveillance

WHA and the WHA Universities Focus Group have examined the feasibility of more structured reporting on wildlife health and disease events investigated by Australian universities, as part of Australian's general wildlife health surveillance system. 

In early 2015, WHA developed and circulated a survey to Australian universities, exploring how university wildlife clinics and pathology departments could potentially enhance the national capacity for wildlife disease surveillance. The feasibility study examined case load, event type, communication and sharing, reporting and information capture. At a recent workshop with the universities to review the findings it was decided to commence a one year proof of concept trial to demonstrate the value that universities can bring to this area of Australia's biosecurity arrangements.

Coordinated by WHA, the pilot program is supported by funding from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The priority of the pilot program is to collect wildlife disease information currently being generated by university veterinary clinics and pathology departments into the national electronic Wildlife Health Information System (eWHIS). It is envisaged that a structured surveillance program for universities will likely provide opportunities to build on and enhance teaching, investigation and research collaborations across the wildlife health space.

Seven universities are participating in the pilot program: Charles Sturt University, James Cook University, Murdoch University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland; and the University of Sydney.

Media release: Universities help with wildlife health - 19 Jan 2016