Wildlife Diseases

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Wildlife Diseases

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study

    Biology, Wildlife Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
    Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
    Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
    Non-modular pre-requisites:
    Modules excluded:
    Module version for: 2016/7

    Summary module description:
    Diseases which involve wildlife either as hosts or vectors pose significant issues for the health and well-being of people, livestock, companion animals and wild animals themselves. Through lectures this course will provide a detailed knowledge of: the range of disease-causing organisms, their hosts and vectors; zoonoses, including emerging infectious diseases; agricultural diseases; co-evolution of hosts and diseases; control of diseases through management of disease agents, hosts and vectors; the conservation impacts of diseases; and the role of epidemiological modelling in devising management strategies. Examples discussed within the module will include, but not be confined to: malaria; ebola; bovine tuberculosis; rabies; myxomatosis, echinococcosis; devil facial tumour disease; plague; squirrel parapox virus; sarcoptic mange; chytridiomycosis and toxoplasmosis. Students will examine one aspect in depth through the preparation of an essay on a defined topic.

    Assessable learning outcomes:
    By the end of the course, students will be expected to be able to:

    1. State and describe the concept of disease
    2. Describe and discuss the range of disease-causing agents affecting wildlife
    3. Describe the relative importance of wildlife diseases in terms of human mortality rates and economic impacts
    4. Describe and discuss taxonomic differences in the role of wildlife as vectors of diseases which affect humans, livestock and/or companion animals
    5. Describe and discuss approaches to disease surveillance at national and international levels
    6. Describe and discuss the role of livestock and companion cats and dogs as hosts and vectors of diseases affecting wild mammal populations
    7. Describe and discuss the ecological consequences of disease-related changes in species abundance
    8. Describe and discuss the implications of changes in host abundance as a consequence of human actions for disease-causing agents
    9. Describe and discuss a range of emerging infectious diseases and the factors related to the emergence of these diseases
    10. Describe, discuss and critically evaluate the mechanisms and approaches used to manage diseases which involve wildlife as host and/or vectors
    11. Describe and discuss the role of epidemiological modelling in helping develop disease control strategies
    12. Describe and discuss the role of diseases as biological control agents
    13. Describe and discuss the potential use of disease organisms as delivery agents for the use of fertility control agents to control pest species
    14. Discuss and describe processes in the co-evolution of disease-causing agents and their hosts
    15. Discuss the ethical paradox associated with applying conventional philosophies to disease-causing agents.

    Additional outcomes:
    Students will gain experience in their review and critical analysis of primary scientific literature and the real world implications of their studies.

    Outline content:
    A series of lectures will be used to cover topics relating to the ecology and management of wildlife diseases. For the purposes of this module, wildlife will be defined as "biological organisms living beyond the direct control of humans" and will include, therefore, wild animals and plants which may act as hosts or vectors as well as disease-causing agents themselves. Introductory lectures will address the range of diseases and disease-causing agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites) which affect human interests and/or wildlife themselves. Subsequent sets of lectures will address: (i) zoonotic diseases, including emerging infectious diseases; (ii) the livestock-wildlife interface; (iii) crop diseases; (iv) the conservation impacts of diseases. Specific emphasis will be given to how diseases have or have not been managed successfully and the range of approaches used to combat them (e.g. disease surveillance schemes; veterinary-based approaches, including the use of vaccines; approaches aimed at controlling vector populations).

    Students will be expected to read papers and other literature indicated by the lecturer. Students will be advised of the appropriateness of web-based articles.

    Global context:
    Diseases which involve wildlife are a major factor affecting: (i) humans, (ii) livestock, (iii) companion animals and (iv) wild animal populations across the globe. The development of methods to control and manage these conditions/infections effectively will help improve: the health and well-being of millions of people annually; significantly improve global food security; and help preserve global biodiversity.

    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    Contact hours:
    Lectures- 20
    Guided independent study- 80
    Total hours by term- 100
    Total hours for module- 100

    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Written exam- 70%
    Written assignment including essay- 30%

    Other information on summative assessment:
    Formative assessment methods:
    Work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark.

    Feedback will be given on assessed work to allow students to improve their writing and study skills.

    Length of examination:
    A two hour examination

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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