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Considerations for minimising the spread of infectious disease in Antarctic seabirds and seals

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 03:04 authored by Grimaldi, W, Julia Jabour, Woehler, EJ
Before 1998, concern was raised over the potential for human activities in Antarctica to introduce infectious disease organisms to native wildlife. A workshop was held that year to address this issue. In the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in human traffic to the Antarctic and the number of commercial tourists visiting the Antarctic has steadily risen. Personnel of national science programmes, though relatively few in numbers, have the most intimate contact with wildlife and thus the greater potential to introduce organisms through their research activities. Many visitors are now able to arrive in the Antarctic from temperate regions within hours by aircraft, and from northern polar regions within 24 to 36 hours. Tourists, by their high numbers, also have the potential to transfer infectious disease agents among commonly visited sites. As of 2009, no outbreaks of infectious diseases in the Antarctic reported in the literature have been directly attributed to human activity, but the ameliorating climate may break down the barriers that have kept Antarctic wildlife relatively free of infectious diseases. Several agents of infectious diseases reported in Antarctic seabirds and seals are assessed for their likelihood to occur more frequently in terms of the characteristics of the agent, the behaviour of Antarctic wildlife, and the effects of an ameliorating climate (regional warming) in conjunction with continued increasing human activities.


Publication title

Polar Record










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Cambridge University Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments

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