BI3EP7-Wildlife Diseases

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: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Phil Baker


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:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
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.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    A two hour examination

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

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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