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BIO8054 : Management of Wildlife Disease and Epidemiology

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Stephen Rushton
  • Lecturer: Professor Aileen Mill
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aim of this module is to deliver a unique perspective on the theory and practical management of disease in wildlife. The various types of disease agent (viral, bacterial, parasitic etc) and disease process (endemic, epidemic and exotic) will be presented, along with the various justifications for disease control (zoonoses, economic and human welfare). The module will develop the student’s knowledge of the epidemiological process, transmission dynamics and an introduction to epidemiological modelling. The various means of disease management such as vaccination, culling, fertility control and habitat management will be presented in the context of both endemic disease and as a contingency for an exotic disease outbreak. The different approaches to surveillance and monitoring of wildlife disease will be examined.

Outline Of Syllabus

Disease: disease agents and ecological effects of wildlife disease. The different disease processes, transmission dynamics and justification for management.
Epidemiology: epidemiological theory, simple disease models and parameter estimation. An introduction to different types of epidemiological models to illustrate their uses and abuses. The benefits of spatial and stochastic modelling and how economics can fit in to decision making.
Disease management: the benefits and disadvantages of the different means of managing disease - vaccination, culling, therapeutic interventions, fertility control and habitat management.
Risk assessment and contingency planning: an introduction to risk assessment procedures for wildlife diseases and how contingency plans are constructed and implemented.
Disease surveillance: The differences between a survey, surveillance and monitoring for wildlife diseases, surveillance for new diseases, active and passive reporting.
Conservation: disease management in rare species, therapeutic intervention and targeting the reservoir host.

Case studies to include endemic disease management of bovine tuberculosis in badgers and cattle, management of rabies in foxes and contingency planning for exotic disease outbreaks.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials160:308:00Online lecture material
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Spatial epidemiology modelling
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Written assessment - Modelling disease processes
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading45:0020:00Directed reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:006:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities160:308:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice112:0012:00Follow up from computer practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study110:0010:00Follow up from workshops
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Online lectures are used to explain the wealth of theory, concept and background material in wildlife disease, backed up by references to the research literature. Workshops will explore specific zoonotics in more detail using case studies from recent research. Computer-based workshop sessions will provide the hands-on training experience to enable students to model disease explore the impact of various interventions.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M100Modelling disease processes (1500 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exercises will test the understanding of epidemiological processes and intervention and management options.

Study Abroad students may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the format of the paper may differ from that shown in the MOF. Study Abroad students should contact the School to discuss this.

Reading Lists