Shared infections at the wildlife–livestock interface and their impact on public health, economy, and biodiversity

Shared infections at the livestock–wildlife “interface” are commonly referred to as “spillover” or “cross-species transmitted” infections . They underscore the interconnectedness of wildlife and livestock ecosystems and frequently impact multiple facets of public health, economy, and biodiversity.
Shared infections at the wildlife–livestock interface and their impact on public health, economy, and biodiversity
Like

Livestock and wildlife have coexisted, sharing and competing for resources in diverse ecosystems for millennia. However, as the human population continues to grow, resource sharing increasingly occurs at interfaces along the boundaries of heavily human-influenced environments. Conversely, some changing dynamics, such as population increase of certain wildlife species, like the wild boar (Sus scrofa), have brought domestic and wild species into closer contact at these interconnecting interfaces, resulting in the spillover of infectious diseases.

Animal production, contributing to more than 40% of the total global agriculture output, plays a vital role in supporting the livelihoods of over >20% of the world’s population (FAO 2023). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) reports, over 20% of global animal production losses are caused by different animal diseases (WHO 2023). Additionally, infectious diseases in animals that have zoonotic potential pose significant risk to public and global health. Notably, the majority (>75%) of emerging infectious diseases (EID) in the last century were zoonotic in nature (Jones et al. 2008).

Gaining deeper insights into the epidemiology and ecology of shared infections is essential to prevent, curtail, and mitigate their impacts. A multifaceted approach, including wildlife disease surveillance, studies on disease ecology, and research on potential critical points of infections transmission at the interfaces, can prove effective in addressing many of these emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Notable shared infections in the livestock–wildlife interface categorized by continent and total animal production by regions. Protein quantities are indicated in millions of tons. The upper image has been modified based on data from a FAO source (https://www.fao.org/gleam/es/). The selection of shared infections has been adapted from Vicente et al. (2021), focusing on beef, pork, chicken, small ruminants, and buffalo species.
Notable shared infections in the livestock–wildlife interface categorized by continent and total animal production by regions. Protein quantities are indicated in millions of tons. The upper image has been modified based on data from a FAO source (https://www.fao.org/gleam/es/). The selection of shared infections has been adapted from Vicente et al. (2021), focusing on beef, pork, chicken, small ruminants, and buffalo species.

Factors Modifying Infection/Disease Interfaces

The emergence of new infection/disease interfaces is driven by several factors, including exponential growth in animal and human populations, rapid urbanization, evolving farming systems, closer integration between livestock and wildlife, encroachment into forests, shifts in ecosystems, globalization of animal and animal product trade, and changes in pathogen-host ecology. These factors also increase the likelihood of pathogen transmission between livestock and wildlife populations.

Newly formed interfaces (wildlife–livestock) resulting from the expansion of populations in livestock and wildlife species. Closer and open interfaces between animal production site and wildlife habitat mean higher likelihood of pathogen spillover and transmission. Transmission of African Swine Fever (ASF), caused by a DNA virus, between wild boar and domesticated (or farmed) pigs at a close livestock-wildlife interface is a good example of such scenario. A proper biosecurity measure in the animal production sites and creation of buffer zones between wildlife habitat and livestock sites can mitigate such pathogen (disease) spillover and transmission possibilities.
Newly formed interfaces (wildlife–livestock) resulting from the expansion of populations in livestock and wildlife species. Closer and open interfaces between animal production site and wildlife habitat mean higher likelihood of pathogen spillover and transmission. Transmission of African Swine Fever (ASF), caused by a DNA virus, between wild boar and domesticated (or farmed) pigs at a close livestock-wildlife interface is a good example of such scenario. A proper biosecurity measure in the animal production sites and creation of buffer zones between wildlife habitat and livestock sites can mitigate such pathogen (disease) spillover and transmission possibilities.

Control Measures at the Interface

Control measures at the wildlife–livestock interface are typically implemented to minimize infections transmission and address conflicts among stakeholders, such as farmers, hunters, and official veterinarians. Taking a One Health perspective, which considers the interconnectedness of the environment, animals, and humans, is crucial for effective disease control in this interface. Control measures encompass various strategies, including active and passive sanitary surveillance of wildlife and livestock to promptly detect emerging or re-emerging diseases, population density management in cases of rapid growth, vaccination programs, vector control, and implementing biosecurity measures to prevent contact between domestic animals and wildlife. It is important to recognize that control measures may differ depending on the specific wildlife and livestock species involved, the pathogens at play, as well as the local context and regulations.

Combined control measures to prevent or reduce shared infections at the livestock-wildlife interface. A One Health-based approach of surveilling and preventing the pathogens from infecting livestock and wildlife is the most effective way of controlling infections at wildlife–livestock interface. This entails implementation of a comprehensive biosecurity measures at the animal production sites.
Combined control measures to prevent or reduce shared infections at the livestock-wildlife interface. A One Health-based approach of surveilling and preventing the pathogens from infecting livestock and wildlife is the most effective way of controlling infections at wildlife–livestock interface. This entails implementation of a comprehensive biosecurity measures at the animal production sites.

Conclusion

Shared infectious diseases at the livestock–wildlife interface have significant impacts on animal production and biodiversity. With the expected growth of selected wildlife populations, such as wild boar and synanthropic bird species, and global livestock production and trade, these diseases are likely to emerge, re-emerge and cause major epidemics in the future. Additionally, with the changing climatic conditions, the disease spill over and transmission dynamics have been changing as well, triggering more outbreaks at all different interfaces, mostly viral diseases, within all production groups. Therefore, it is essential to adopt a collaborative approach within the framework of One Health to safeguard the health of livestock, wildlife, humans, and the environment. To tackle the emerging and re-emerging diseases at wildlife–livestock interfaces, it is crucial to establish an enhanced disease surveillance system, implement effective risk mitigation and management strategies, and foster coordination and collaboration among national, regional, and global government and non-government agencies and stakeholders.

Please sign in or register for FREE

If you are a registered user on Research Communities by Springer Nature, please sign in

Subscribe to the Topic

Public Health
Life Sciences > Health Sciences > Public Health
Infectious Diseases
Life Sciences > Biological Sciences > Microbiology > Medical Microbiology > Infectious Diseases
Global Health
Humanities and Social Sciences > Society > Sociology > Health, Medicine and Society > Global Health