A panel of experts will hold a WCS media briefing on High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that is currently wreaking havoc around the world and is the largest known outbreak since scientists have begun tracking the disease.

Experts warn if the HPAI outbreak continues, it will alter global biodiversity forever and likely has already inflicted long-lasting ecological consequences. If transmission were sustained amongst humans, it could impact the globe similar to or worse than the 1918 Flu pandemic with unfathomable impacts.

World governments must act with a whole of society One Health response before it is too late. We must collaborate across international borders bringing together public and livestock health specialists, along with conservationists, to mitigate this looming threat and safeguard our environment and health.

In addition, WCS Executive Director for Health will discuss evidence-based discourse on the sources of COVID-19. Walzer says information suggests COVID-19 originally spread to people from wildlife sold at a “wet” market in Wuhan, China, and that innuendo and unsourced statements that amount to “trust us” cannot be held out as evidence that in any way matches actual facts documented through rigorous — and open — science. Walzer recently wrote about this topic in an op-ed for The Hill.


  • Dr. Chris Walzer, Executive Director of WCS Health Programs
  • Dr. Vincent Munster, Chief Virus Ecology Section, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID/NIH
  • Paulo Colchao, Wildlife Health Specialist, WCS Peru
  • Dr. Emily Denstedt, Regional Technical Advisor, Greater Mekong and South Asia, WCS Health Program


Register in advance for this briefing:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25, 2023 @9:00 am ET


In the U.S. alone, more than 58 million poultry have died or been culled due to High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The H5N1 strain has now infected more than 150 wild avian species around the globe as well as a dozen mammalian species.

As the virus repeatedly infects wildlife like minks, otters, foxes, and sea lions, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called on public health officials to prepare for potential spillover causing human outbreaks of H5N1.

While avian influenza cases in humans remain limited, human cases from poultry have recently been identified in Cambodia, Ecuador, and China. Human-to-human transmission has not been documented yet; however, experts warn against complacency given its high fatality rate among birds, wild mammals, and the physiological similarities between infected wildlife and humans.

WCS is dedicated to preventing and responding to the spread of avian influenza by using a One Health approach and innovative tools to track, monitor, and mitigate its impact on wildlife populations worldwide. WCS research and field teams work on the ground with our partners in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America to collect and mobilize data, while monitoring and analyzing both past and ongoing avian influenza events to better understand the dynamic impacts on bird diversity.

QUESTIONS: Contact Stephen Sautner +1 908 247 2585 ssautner@wcs.org; or Mary Dixon: +1 347 840 1242; mdixon@wcs.org