Issue Area

Wildlife Disease

Overview

Wildlife diseases are caused by the transfer of pathogens between humans and animals. Over 75% of emerging diseases (such as COVID-19) originate in wildlife. Their spread is exacerbated by deforestation, wildlife exploitation, development, and poor waste management, all of which increase wild animal-human proximity and the chance of wildlife disease spillover.

States are considering a variety of bills to protect against future wildlife diseases. Without action, wildlife diseases will continue to spread, and future pandemics could be even harder to control.

NCEL Point of Contact
Ruth Musgrave

Conservation Senior Advisor

Contact
Key Facts

Approximately one-quarter of human deaths are caused by infectious disease and nearly 60% of infectious diseases are considered zoonotic. However, 75% of newly emerging diseases are zoonotic.

Examples of zoonotic diseases include COVID-19, HIV, malaria, ebola, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, West Nile, and Lyme disease.

Zoonotic diseases are increasing because of population growth, exploitation of wildlife, development and destruction of natural areas, and climate change.

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