Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A global map of wildlife disease

Environmental Science and Technology: The plight of the world’s wildlife is worsening under the combined onslaught of climate change, habitat destruction, chemical pollution, and infectious diseases. This has direct and indirect consequences for environmental and human health. Yet the tallies and descriptions of diseased and dying wildlife are not always reported in global information platforms, making it difficult for researchers to stay current.

Now a new online map (the Global Wildlife Disease Map), developed jointly by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin Madison, provides a single platform for tracking wildlife health on a global scale. Updated daily, the map pinpoints locations with reported disease outbreaks and is part of a 5-year-old database on wildlife diseases called the Wildlife Disease Information Node (WDIN). Viewers can map diseases by species, country, and type—bacterial, fungal, environmental, viral, and so on—and learn about the diseases themselves from the resources provided by WDIN….

Migratory birds are a major pathway for the spread of wildlife pathogens that also infect humans, including the West Nile virus and Avian Influenza virus. Shown here: a gathering of coots, NASA, Wikimedia Commons

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