With deadly novel viruses happening more frequently and forever altering the world, researchers are racing to prevent the next global disaster. VIRUS HUNTERS reveals the raw and chilling stories of these heroic experts who are on the frontline leading the most critical scientific mission of a generation. The one-hour special features National Geographic fellow, epidemiologist and ecologist Christopher Golden and ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman as they embark on an epic worldwide journey to speak with the brave scientists that are connecting the dots on culture, disease and the environment to discover the patterns that cause global health crises. Searching for vital answers to urgent questions, together they meet with Dr. Kendra Phelps, a bat scientist; Dr. Jim Desmond, a wildlife veterinarian who specializes in emerging infectious diseases; wildlife biologist Jess Carstens; and research veterinary medical officer specializing in swine viral pathogens Dr. Amy Vincent, to uncover how the world can head off the next pandemic…before it’s too late.
While the world grips with the COVID 19 pandemic—scientists know there are other viruses lurking out there, one of which could be just as contagious as COVID-19, yet much more deadly. And they know we need to be prepared for such an outbreak.
This is the heart and soul of Virus Hunters, a new documentary special premiering tonight on the National Geographic channel. The documentary follows award-winning ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman and Harvard ecologist and epidemiologist Chris Golden as they travel to hot spots around the world: Liberia, Thailand, Turkey, and (yes) the United States. It’s a companion piece to a special issue of National Geographic magazine released in mid-October devoted to COVID-19.
Dr. Jim Desmond is a consulting veterinarian with EcoHealth Alliance. Dr. Desmond’s primary role is to conduct disease surveillance in wildlife populations to better understand the transmission risks associated with different species and interfaces. Through this work, Dr. Desmond has investigated the wildlife trade industry on a local level from central Africa to southern China, as it is one of the most important interfaces between humans and wildlife.
Dr. Desmond has a strong interest in animal welfare and conservation. When not working for EcoHealth Alliance, he provides consulting services to a number of other organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, the Jane Goodall Institute, Veterinarians without Borders, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Smithsonian Institution and several individual member sanctuaries.
The Koalition spoke to Dr. Golden about joining National Geographic’s Virus Hunters documentary, what we can learn about animal the kingdom, the evolution of COVID-19 and more.
Check out our interview below.