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Online course

Animal Viruses: Their Transmission and the Diseases They Produce

Learn how important animal viruses are transmitted between animals and humans, and understand the diseases they produce.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Animal Viruses: Their Transmission and the Diseases They Produce

Why join 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.
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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 secondsWe 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.

What topics will you cover?

  • Main characteristics of animal viruses: structure and replication.
  • How to handle viruses in a lab.
  • The immune response against viruses and how to protect against viral diseases using vaccines.
  • Different routes of viral transmission between animals
  • Viruses that produce chronic persistent diseases.
  • Important/relevant animal diseases as examples of the different routes of viral transmission.
  • Mechanisms of pathogenesis of the viruses which use the different routes of transmission.
  • Zoonosis: viruses that infect animals and humans.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of viral diseases in animals.
  • Control and prevention of viral diseases in animals depending on their route of transmission.

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify the main morphological characteristics of animal viruses and how they are classified into families.
  • Describe the differences between DNA and RNA viruses, naked and enveloped viruses, and how this affects variability of the genome and the resistance pattern to physical and chemical agents.
  • Describe the general steps of viral infection in a cell and in the animal body.
  • Assess the uses and applications of reverse transcriptase in Molecular Biology.
  • Compare the requirements for transmission associated with airborne, vector-borne, and faeces-shed viruses and viruses which enter through breaches in the skin and how to avoid spread according to the transmission route.
  • Identify which viruses produce the different diseases studied in depth and how they are ascribed to the different families.
  • Describe the epidemiology and the transmission routes of the diseases dealt with in the course and collect data for evaluating the origin and spread of rabies, West Nile, Bluetongue and Influenza outbreaks.
  • Reflect on the pathogenesis of the different diseases, i.e., how viruses produce each specific disease, and the main clinical signs of the diseases mentioned above.
  • Explore which diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, i.e., zoonosis.
  • Reflect on the effects of climate change on the distribution of vectors of viral diseases and, thus, on the spread of arboviral diseases.
  • Evaluate which samples and techniques are the most conclusive to diagnose the different viral diseases mentioned above.
  • Identify the mechanisms to control the different viral diseases through management, such as quarantine, disinfection, etc., depending on the transmission route of each virus.
  • Identify which vaccines are used for the different viral diseases mentioned, their types and problems which may arise from their use.

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

Esperanza Gomez-Lucia

I have a DVM and a PhD in Animal Health. I am a Prof. at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid at the Vet School. I find my work very motivating and love it. But I also have many other hobbies.

Ana Doménech Gómez

I have a DVM and a PhD in Animal Health. I am a Professor at the Veterinary School at Universidad Complutense, Madrid. My research is mainly focused on animal viruses. I love teaching!

Laura Benítez Rico

I am an Associate Professor at the Biological Sciences School of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. I am passionate about viruses especially from birds and I enjoy teaching about it.

Cinta Prieto

I am an Associate Professor at the Vet School in Madrid. My research is mostly on viral diseases of pigs.

Sophie LePoder

I am a teacher at the École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort. I love viruses and teaching about them. I also participate in a European project about teaching virology.

ISABEL SIMARRO

Professor of Animal Health, his teaching activity in grade has focused on the disciplines of: Infectious Diseases, Preventive Medicine and Sanitary Police,
And Zoonoses and Public Health.

Who developed the course?

The Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) is the largest public research university in Spain, and is widely regarded as one of its most prestigious academic institutions.

The National veterinary school of Alfort (École nationale vétérinaire d’Alfort or ENVA), is a French public institution of scientific research and higher education in veterinary medicine.

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 $99.00

Statement of Participation $59.00

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