A good understanding of the disease status of wildlife is important for many reasons:

  • Infection and disease can be more quickly identified and managed through better research and monitoring.
  • Certain diseases can be transmitted from wildlife to humans (and vice versa).
  • Certain diseases can be transmitted from wildlife to domestic animals (and vice versa).
  • Changes in health and disease status of wildlife may be indicators for changes in the environment.
  • Disease in wildlife may be a welfare concern.
  • Disease in wildlife species can impact populations, potentially causing population collapse with a range of knock-on effects.


Historically a number of institutes in the Netherlands have worked on different aspects of wildlife health. However, a central point for questions or concerns related to wildlife health, research and monitoring activities was non-existent. In addition, not all areas of wildlife health were addressed. This led to the initiation of the Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC) in April 2002, under the auspices of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University, the Institute of Virology of the Erasmus MC Rotterdam and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries (LNV).

Originally the DWHC was part of the Erasmus Medical Centre, but in 2008 it joined forces with the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Utrecht Veterinary School and was officially opened on the 7th January 2009.


The DWHC is jointly funded by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University.

Advisory board

The scientific advisory board of the DWHC consists of representatives from several Dutch organisations that are involved with animal and public health and the environment.  Currently these institutions include the RIVM (Bilthoven), the WBVR, (Lelystad), the GD (Deventer), WUR (Wageningen), Erasmus MC (Rotterdam), the NVWA (Utrecht), Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology (SOVON) and the Dutch Mammal Society. Representatives of institutions involved in wildlife and environmental management are invited to join the commission.