Learn to Care for the Wellbeing of Wildlife
Course Code: VEN027
- What animals need to be healthy
- Animal health, disease prevention and management, welfare services, first aid
- Animals both in captivity (eg. zoos, rescue centres) and in the wild
- Birds, Reptiles, Mammals and more
There are two (2) compulsory modules consisting of -
- Animal Health Care
- Animal Diseases
In addition, choose any four (4) of the following:
- Animal Welfare
- Animal Behaviour
- Vertebrate Zoology
- Wildlife Conservation
- Wildlife Management
LEARN TO KEEP ANIMALS HEALTHY
It is important when studying animal health to understand what may cause diseases or health issues in animals. Health issues and diseases may be passed on from a range of pathogens or parasites, could be a genetic disorder or even a metabolic or nutritional disorder
Pathogens are microbes which can inhabit an animal causing disease. The pathogen, or infectious agent, will enter the host (the animal) through orifices such as the eyes, mouth, nose, genital openings and also open wounds, and then invade specific host cells. It is only then the pathogen multiplies causing disease.
Pathogens can come in many forms including; viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Most of these microorganisms are unicellular, meaning they are only one celled organisms. Viruses have no cellular structure and some fungi are multicellular organisms.
A virus is a microbe which must enter the cells of animals, plants and humans causing disease. They are very small and difficult to identify, and usually occur in three main shape forms; rods, spheres and tadpole shapes. A virus contains a nucleic acid, usually DNA or RNA, which is enclosed in an outer layer of protein. Viruses which attack animal hosts are usually made up of DNA.
A virus has no cell structure and must invade a living cell to reproduce, and this cell is usually a specific host cell. This is why some viruses are specific to certain species. The virus can enter the host through;
- Bodily fluids i.e. blood, saliva, semen
- Mosquitoes or fleas (passing of infected blood)
- Skin to skin contact
- Nasal cavity (airborne diseases)
Once entered the host, the virus attacks specific host cells where they enter and reproduces more viruses causing the actual disease. The virus may be unable to reproduce within the animal, antibodies within the host attack the virus or the virus continues to replicate causing damage to the host’s body.
Some examples of viral diseases in animals;
- Foot and mouth
- African horse sickness
- Avian influenza
- Parvo virus
Depending on the virus, they can be controlled through preventative measures;
- Control of pests and parasites
- Restriction of any possible carriers
- Monitoring new animals before introduced to other individuals
Vaccinations are available for some viruses’ and these work by injecting the animal with a small amount of the virus. The antibodies within the animal will fight off the virus, and if the animal comes in contact with the virus again, the antibodies will recognize it fighting it off more easily. The problem with vaccinations is a virus can change and mutate and this can lead to difficulties and the vaccine becomes inefficient.
Viruses are only one type of pathogen though. Bacteria, protazoa and other organisms can infect animals too, and every type of pathogen has its own distinct characteristics
Health Management Starts with Knowing What Problems to Manage
To manage the health of animals, you need to know what can cause problems, and how to manage those problems.
The more you study the better you will grasp the fundamentals of managing animal health. Beyond your initial studies; that understanding of the fundamentals will help you to make more sense of your experience over the years that come. Experience with animals is far more valuable and memorable for a graduate from a course such as this, than it can ever be for someone lacking that fundamental education in animal health.