Numerous emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) have arisen from or been identified in wildlife, with health implications for both humans and wildlife. In the practice of wildlife conservation, to date most attention has focused on the threat EIDs pose to biodiversity and wildlife population viability. In the popular media and public eye, however, wildlife is often only portrayed as the cause of EIDs and resultant human health impacts. There is little coverage on the roles of human-induced habitat destruction or wildlife population stress in EID spread, nor the negative impacts of disease on wildlife. Here, we focus on a little-studied and seldom discussed concern: how real and perceived risks of wildlife-associated diseases for human and companion animal health might erode public support for wildlife conservation. We believe that wildlife-associated EIDs and public perceptions of these risks are among the most important threats to wildlife conservation. In light of this concern, we explore the challenges and opportunities for addressing this situation in a One Health context that emphasizes the interdisciplinary collaboration and the inextricable nature of human and animal health and disease.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1