Wildlife health concerns associated with disposal of sewage effluent in wetlands are of three primary types: (1) introduction of pathogens, (2) introduction of pollutants that adversely impact on host body defense mechanisms, and (3) changes in the physical and chemical properties of wetlands that favor the development and maintenance of disease problems. Unlike the situation with human health concerns, introduction of pathogens is not the major concern regarding wildlife health. Instead, the focus of attention needs to be directed at environmental changes likely to take place as a result of effluent discharges into different types of wetlands. Unless these changes are adequately addressed from a disease perspective, marshes utilized for sewage disposal could become disease incubators and wildlife death traps. This result would be unfortunate because the backlash would likely negate the potentially beneficial aspects of the use of sewage wastewater for the creation of new wetlands and have a severe impact on progress being made towards evaluation of the compatibility of wildlife and sewage effluents.
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Wildlife health implications of sewage disposal in wetlands