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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsThe term "virus" was invented in the 19th century to describe the mysterious cause of certain diseases, and since then, it has become synonymous with "problems".

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 secondsWhen we consider the word virus, we think about Epidemic, Disease, and even an infection in our computers... We have even coined the term "viral" to refer to something that expands rapidly. But do we really know how viruses work and cause disease in the animals they infect?

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsIn this course, we will study many viral diseases that affect animals. Some, such as rabies, have been known since ancient times; others, such as West Nile fever, Ebola haemorrhagic fever, or the avian flu, have emerged with force in recent decades. Both ancient and recent viral diseases can cause major economic losses of milk, meat or egg production; some induce the death of our animals either, directly or by the need to euthanize them to prevent that the infection spreads; and undoubtedly, many of us know how sad it is to see our pets sick.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsIt is very difficult to cure a viral infection since, usually, there are no effective treatments against viruses. The truth is that viruses resemble the components of the cells they infect. This makes it very difficult to stop viral infections once they infect the cell. Therefore, it is very important to prevent that animals become infected, mainly avoiding the transmission between them. In this course, we will focus on the main mechanisms of transmission of viral diseases, learning step-by-step the different forms in which various types of viruses spread, and we will show related biological and medical aspects.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds We will also learn about some infections which are difficult to control as the virus establishes persistent infections, remaining hidden inside the cells, waiting to activate at the adequate time. In our tour, we will stop to know more about some of the most important viral diseases in animals and learn about their possible impact in the health of people.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 secondsAccompany us in this course and you will have a very broad, cursory view of the importance of the diseases caused by viruses in animals. You will understand the reasons for their great expansion, and you will learn about the best methods and techniques available in our globalized world to prevent them and control them. Get ready to enter the world of viruses and the diseases that they cause as presented to you by a group of specialists in Virology, from the Schools of Veterinary Medicine and of Biology of the University Complutense of Madrid and of the University of Maisons-Alfort.

About the course

In this free online course, you will learn about animal viruses that affect pets, birds, sheep, cattle, swine and horses, and produce important diseases.

These animal diseases may cause huge economic losses to farmers and severe emotional distress to animal owners. They may even be transmitted to humans, posing important questions about their spread and control.

Learn about animal viruses and the animal diseases they produce

In Week 1, we will start with an introduction to animal viruses, their form and structure (or morphology), and characteristics. We will provide basic information to help you understand viral diseases in animals and humans.

In each of the remaining five weeks, we will focus on a different transmission route and look at an animal virus that exemplifies it:

  • Faecal-oral transmission: using parvoviruses and canine parvovirosis as an example.
  • Open wounds: focusing on rabies and other zoonotic viruses, which produce diseases in both humans and animals.
  • Arthropod transmission: viruses that are carried by insects and ticks, and introduced directly into the bloodstream.
  • Airborne transmission: such as influenza, which may be transmitted from birds and pigs to humans.
  • Other infections difficult to control because they are persistent: produced by viruses that remain in their host, including herpesvirus and retrovirus.

Understanding viral diseases with veterinary teaching specialists

The course has been developed by a team at Complutense University of Madrid, who are all experienced in teaching virology and infectious diseases at veterinary schools at Madrid and Alfort.

By the end of the six weeks, you will:

  • appreciate that animal viruses are transmitted through different routes;
  • understand how viral diseases are produced, their clinical signs and why veterinarians require specific tests to diagnose them;
  • understand that the control of a virus depends on its characteristics, including morphological features, routes of transmission and ability to persist in the host;
  • and recognise how climate change is modifying the presence of animal diseases.

This course is designed for anyone with a keen interest in the science behind animal viruses and animal diseases. It will be particularly useful to veterinary and science students wishing to complement their studies and anyone working in animal health and welfare. A basic knowledge of biology is desirable, although not required.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £69.00

Statement of Participation £39.00

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: