The processes which give rise to emerging infectious diseases of wildlife can be categorised as follows: ecosystem alterations of anthropogenic or natural origin; movement of pathogens or vectors, via human or natural agency; and changes in microbes or in the recognition of emerging pathogens due to advances in the techniques of epidemiology. These are simplistic divisions because factors influencing the emergence of diseases of wild animals generally fall into more than one category. Mycoplasmosis among passerines is related to habitat changes and artificial feeding resulting in increased bird densities and subsequent disease transmission. The origin of this strain of Mycoplasma gallisepticum is not known. Hantavirus infections in rodents have emerged due to human-induced landscape alterations and/or climatic changes influencing population dynamics of hantavirus reservoir hosts, with disease consequences for humans.

Movement of pathogens or vectors is a very important process by which diseases of wildlife expand geographic range. Although the origin of caliciviruses of rabbits and hares is somewhat obscure, their movement by humans, either deliberately or accidentally, has greatly expanded the distribution of these viruses. Rabies is an ancient disease, but geographic expansion has occurred by both natural and anthropogenic movements of wild animals. Human movement of amphibians may explain the distribution of the highly pathogenic chytrid fungus around the world. Newly recognised paramyxoviruses may reflect both changes in these pathogens and the development of techniques of identification and classification. Many more such examples of emerging diseases will arise in the future, given the extensive alterations in landscapes world-wide and movements of animals, vectors and pathogens. Those who study and diagnose diseases of wildlife must be alert for emerging diseases so that the impact of such diseases on wild animals, domestic animals and humans can be minimised.