Time to consider pharmacological interventions against infectious disease in wildlife.

Published online
19 Sep 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Wilkinson, V. & Richards, S. A. & Næsborg-Nielsen, C. & Carver, S.
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Interventions against infectious diseases in wildlife are increasingly necessary but remain problematic. Dissimilar to public and domestic animal health, pharmacological interventions (PIs) are rarely used against disease in wildlife populations. However, drugs can combat a range of pathogen types while aligning with positive ethical, epidemiological, evolutionary and socio-economic outcomes. We discuss how recent conceptual and technological advances could overcome barriers, improve safety and begin a new era of contemporary wildlife management that embraces PIs. We then provide a framework that supports an objective comparison of intervention suitability, including PIs. We find numerous directions for PI optimisation through innovation and transdisciplinary collaboration and demonstrate the utility of the framework for judging the appropriateness of a PI. Synthesis and applications: Interrogating how and when pharmacological interventions can be used to the greatest effect reduces risks and improves outcomes for wildlife, while empowering decision makers to draw from the full suite of intervention methods to find the most appropriate disease management solutions.

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