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U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center Director Jonathan Sleeman explains the process for observing and reporting issues with wildlife.

This podcast explores

  • The mission and main activities of the center,
  • The potential for spillover of viral diseases including covid-19 from humans to North American bats, and
  • Current findings and projects of the center, such as bird flu, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and white nose syndrome in bats.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center has been in action since 1975 and has a mission to advance wildlife health science for the benefit of animals and the environment. Jonathan Sleeman has been the director since 2009 and explains to listeners some of the vital work of his team. This includes general surveillance of wildlife diseases including investigations into viral diseases and other pathogens when die offs of wildlife are observed. 

He discusses the effect of the current coronavirus pandemic on their work. He says that one concern is that it could do a reverse spillover to our bats. Therefore the center is doing risk assessments to see the probability of this by analyzing human and bat wildlife interaction among other things. Bats, felines, mink, and deer are some animals that potentially could be affected. After the risk assessment is complete, they’ll design a system to monitor these animals

He covers some of the other wildlife pathogens the center monitors and tells the history behind discovering white nose syndrome in bats in North America and the continued monitoring of bird flu and chronic wasting disease.

For more information, see their web page at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nwhc and the email contact is asknwhc@usgs.gov.

Mr. Sleeman urges listeners to enjoy wildlife from a distance; however, if you see sick or dead animals that seem out of the norm, contact your state wildlife management group.

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