The Sri Lanka Wildlife Health Centre was created in 2011 as an intersectoral surveillance system intended to address gaps in emerging and zoonotic disease preparedness in the country. This study, which was conducted during August 2015 to November 2015, examined perceived obstacles and opportunities to undertake wildlife disease surveillance in Sri Lanka. Responses to a pretested postal questionnaire by 315 field officers from the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) and Department of Animal Production and Health (livestock development instructors [LDIs] and field veterinary surgeons [FVSs]) were used in the analysis. Responses came from all 25 administrative districts in the country. The reported obstacles (and proportion of respondents) included lack of transport facilities (80%), skilled staff (75%), infrastructure (65%), human resources (62%), training (67%), and a mandate for getting involved in wildlife disease surveillance (28%). These obstacles have resulted in rare or sporadic collection and submission of samples and their testing for surveillance purposes. A focus on rabies surveillance found that 84 (78%) DWC officers whose mandate was to deal with wild animals and 41 (40%) LDIs whose mandate was to deal with agricultural animals had inadequate knowledge to inform rabies surveillance activities and actions. Despite being outside of their mandate, 68% of FVSs and 72% of LDI s were willing to contribute to wild animal disease surveillance. Overcoming legal impediments to handling wildlife was cited as an essential step to establishing a multisectoral surveillance system involving government branches, universities, and citizens.
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Vol. 56 • No. 3