Clinical Wildlife Medicine

The Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative (CWHI) is the result of collaboration between the wildlife rehabilitation community, wildlife regulatory agencies, and wildlife health professionals. It is estimated that ~500,000 wild animals are presented to over 5,000 wildlife care centers annually. These animals represent an untapped source of information on a vast and diverse array of wild animals across the country. This information can extend our knowledge and understanding of wildlife and environmental health issues including emerging infectious diseases, toxicants, climate change, and other environmental threats.

Why One Health is important

‘One Health’ is an approach that integrates human, domestic and wild animal, and environmental health for the benefit of humans, animals and the world we share. It is well recognized that wildlife can serve as biosentinels for emerging diseases such as West Nile virus infection and serve as pathogen reservoirs for diseases in humans, livestock and poultry. Currently there is no comprehensive, integrated national strategy for the monitoring or surveillance of wildlife health issues in the United States; and yet there is an increasing need for wildlife health data. Wildlife care centers already collect and report some data for administrative purposes. The sharing of this data on a broader scale will add robustness to wildlife and environmental data, and advance public policy and public health strategies.


  • To develop tools and strategies for monitoring wildlife and environmental health data from wildlife admitted to professionally staffed rehabilitation centers
  • To create liaisons between individuals and organizations involved in wildlife health, facilitate research and access to biomaterials, and to report out on those efforts

Current projects include standardized data sets and terminology, a database of literature resulting from wildlife rehabilitation, and emergency preparedness and response for the managed wildlife community.

For more information, please contact Michelle Willette at [email protected]

Standardized terminology

Preparedness and response planning

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

With the incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza in free-ranging waterfowl into North America in 2014-2015, the Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative has become involved in emergency preparedness and response outreach and policy for individuals, organizations, and regulators involved in the managed captive wildlife community. Many infectious diseases can be transmitted from wild animals to agricultural animals and humans. It is incumbent upon each managed captive wildlife facility to assure regulators that the facility and its operations do not pose a threat to public health or animal agriculture. This is accomplished by working with local regulators and other stakeholders to develop infectious disease policies and management plans appropriate to each facility to protect staff, volunteers, animal agriculture, wild animals, and the environment.

Prepare, Respond, Recover

Many resources are available for the development of emergency and disaster protocols. While templates and shared resources are helpful, each facility is unique in terms of needs and available resources. Each facility should develop its own robust and realistic plans to prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency or disaster.

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  • Biosecurity and Zoonotic Diseases
    • Morishita, T. Y., Greenacre, C. B. and Souza, M. (2015) Biosecurity and Zoonotic Diseases, in Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery (eds C. B. Greenacre and T. Y. Morishita), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, USA
  • Center for Food Security and Public Health Emergency Response
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Training Modules for Accreditation Renewal
    • See Module 4 – Preventing Disease Introduction and Spread
  • Veterinary Standard Precautions Compendium and Model Infection Control Plan for Veterinary Practices
  • Biosecurity and Disease Control for Wildlife Rehabilitation Facilities - John R. Huckabee, DVM
  • Biosecurity for Patients and Humans at Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinics - Leslie Martin, DVM
  • Principles of Biosecurity - Patrice N. Klein, MS, VMD, DACPV, DACPVM
  • Biosecurity for HPAI Response at Zoological Facilities

Preparedness and response