Since its inception in 1989, Dr. Karesh has directed the Field Veterinary Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Dr. Karesh has pioneered initiatives focusing attention on problems raised by the interactions among wildlife, people, and their animals. His programs cover terrain from Argentina to Zambia. Dr. Karesh is leading efforts in the Congo Basin to reduce the impact of diseases such as Ebola, measles, and tuberculosis on endangered species such as gorillas and chimpanzees, as well as humans living in the region. The FVP is currently has one of its teams in Mongolia where last year they found a strain of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds that has been selected by WHO and CDC as a human pandemic vaccine candidate.
The first of its kind, the Field Veterinary Program fulfills the need for health-related programs and technical advice among government agencies, natural resource managers, and conservation organizations around the globe. To date, the FVP has initiated and facilitated hundreds of projects in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Projects are linked with local government authorities as well as agencies such as USDA, DOI, HHS (CDC), WHO, and FAO.
Prior to his work with WCS, Dr. Karesh was Director of the Center for Wildlife Conservation at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, and a veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park in California. During his career, Dr. Karesh has also worked for the USDA, DOD, and DOI.
Dr. Karesh has worked with thousands of wild animals, and his efforts have led him to some of the most remote corners of the world. Under Dr. Karesh’s direction, the Field Veterinary Program has expanded from critically needed wildlife disease assessments and surveillance to now include training and professional development for foreign government workers and non-governmental organizations. All work is designed to inform policy development to ensure health and conservation. Dr. Karesh is internationally recognized as an authority on the subject of animal and human health linkages and wildlife. He has published over one hundred scientific papers.
Dr. Karesh also chairs the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Veterinary Specialist Group, a network of wildlife and health experts around the world. The IUCN VSG has doubled in size under his leadership, with more than 375 members now in 55 countries around the world.
Dr. Karesh is currently Chief of Party for the newly established Wild Bird Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) program. The aim of the GAINS program is to expand operational field capabilities, improve understanding of viral strains and transmission of influenza viruses in wild birds, and to disseminate information to all levels of governments, international organizations, the private sector and the general public.
E-mail: William Karesh