cod. 1009306

Academic year 2022/23
1° year of course - Second semester
- Sandro CAVIRANI - Maria Cristina OSSIPRANDI
Academic discipline
Malattie infettive degli animali domestici (VET/05)
Discipline zootecniche e delle produzioni animali
Type of training activity
60 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:
• Know the logic and dynamics of protection of animal health and welfare, implementing every possible strategy aimed at ensuring a sustainable approach along the entire supply chain: breeding, slaughtering, processing structure, marketing (internal management and export) and consumer the final.
• Knowing how to plan and manage intervention plans aimed at sustainable management of the livestock farm
• Knowing how to build new zootechnical realities that respect and guarantee biodiversity through a strong and decisive impact on public health.
• Knowing how to propose new control strategies for infectious diseases: new therapeutic strategies (microbiota relationship and immunological dynamics), Evindence Based Medicine (applying the research process, evaluation and systematic use of contemporary research results as the basis of clinical decisions), proteomics and metabolomics (new horizons of epigenetics), implementation of action plans that follow the systemic logic of the One Heath and that respond, concretely, to the challenges imposed by climate change after careful evaluation of epidemiological data.
• Knowing how to orient breeders, entrepreneurs involved in the productive realities linked to food of animal origin, processing and marketing companies, to sustainable management (in the broadest sense, ie not only and exclusively environmental but also economic and social / ethical).
• Knowing how to analyze and critically interpret data and statistical products / reports (epidemiological, climatological studies, forecasts proposed by international organizations involved in the zootechnical and health field such as OIE, Efsa, WHO, AUSL, Emilia-Romagna Region, FAO).
• Knowing how to communicate the results of a research (in the field and empirical) through the preparation of a research report.
• Knowing how to build and manage relationships with people or groups (each actor in the entire livestock supply chain) aimed at achieving the objectives of the planned work.
• Knowing how to improve their performance (in terms of resources and results) based on a reference standard that respects well-being, biodiversity and sustainability.


Elements of statistics and microbiology.

Course unit content

The course is structured in three parts which provide, in a temporal sequence, the following macro topics: 1) introduction to Sustainability in the era of sustainable development (role played by intensive farming, future perspectives according to an innovative approach, sustainable breeding and environmental sustainability in the scenarios of the new millennium) and climate change (impact in the livestock sector, effects on the incidence and control of infectious diseases, protecting biodiversity and protecting ecosystem services, epidemiological surveillance strategies, One Health approach); 2) the emerging role of intestinal microbiota (in the relations between environment and health an epochal change: new approach to infectious diseases) and itroduction to biological bases of epigenetics and nutrigenomics; 3) Study of the methods applied to the understanding of the epidemiology of animal diseases. The aim of the module is the study of bacterial and virus involved in infectious disease of domestic animals: in particular the basic concepts relating to the nature and classification of bacteria and viruses, their pathogenic potential, the main investigation methods and measures of control.

Full programme

The first lessons will focus on the general principles that guarantee a One Health approach to the zootechnical reality: agriculture, environment and health in the scenarios of the new millennium.
What is meant by a systemic and coordinated approach to infectious diseases: the One Health / One Medicine concept.
We will then proceed to analyze and frame the new frontiers of public health which include:
• The epidemiological approach to the causes of disease. Henle-Koch's postulates. Evans's postulates. The Rules of John Stuart Mill. Demonstration of causality. Criteria of causality. Prospective and retrospective studies for demonstrating causality.
• Sampling in veterinary practice. Aims of sampling. Characteristics of a good sample. Sampling errors. Sampling methods. The variability of an estimate and confidence limits. Sample size.
• Measuring disease frequency. General concepts. Morbidity and mortality. Survival and lethality. Prevalence and incidence. Attack rate. Relationship between incidence and prevalence. Epidemic, endemic and sporadic diseases. Other methods for measuring disease frequency. Standardisation of measures.
• Transmission and maintenance of infectious diseases Transmissible diseases. The cycle of a transmissible disease. Latent infection and carrier status. Horizontal and vertical, direct and indirect transmission. Host types. Mechanical and biological vectors. Factors associated with the spread of infections. The spread of infections and host characteristics: receptiveness and contagiousness. The spread of infections and agent characteristics. The spread of infections and contact efficiency. Routes of infection. Transmission modes. Long distance transmission of disease agents. Vertical transmission of disease. Maintenance and survival strategies of the agent.
• Disease patterns. Epidemic curves. Kendall’s threshold theorem. Epidemic trends. Common source and propagation epidemics.
• Models in epidemiology. Model types and functions. A classic model: the Reed & Frost model. Applying the models to the following infectious diseases: Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Salmonelllosis, Bovine and swine enterici diseases, Leptospirosis, Bovine and swine herpesviruses
• Type of vaccines and their use to control infectious diseases.
• Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): the international standardized methodology to analyze the environmental impact of a product, an activity or a process throughout all phases of the life cycle, through the quantification of the use of resources (the " inputs "such as energy, raw materials, water) and emissions into the environment (" inputs "into the air, water and soil) associated with the system being assessed.
• Antibiotic resistance: new strategies and innovative approaches (phage therapy, genesis of intestinal microbiota and correlations with health status and disease, new peptides with antibacterial action). Intestinal health and microbiota: the emerging role of intestinal microbiota in the onset of diseases and therapeutic dynamics (inflammation and innate immunity; nutrition effects on the microbiome; use of the microbiome to identify and therapeutically intervene on diseases; Microbiota and pharmacomicrobiomics.
• Climate change: scientific data on climate change, human-induced consequences, actions and adaptation to combat global warming, carbon dioxide implementation policies
The characterization of the intestinal microbiota and its reflexes on the immunological and health status of animal populations will be fundamental. The theme of sustainability in the livestock sector will be framed. In fact, raising livestock significantly affects environmental balances, both locally and globally. This involves implications that include, among others, the quality of the air and the climate, the quality of the water, the soil, biodiversity, the quality of the landscape. For this purpose the following thematic areas will be focused: the enteric emissions of methane: historical background and analysis of the current situation; sustainable production of bovine, pork and poultry species; environmental impact in organic farming: the role of the feed industry.
We will analyze the impact, which is already important, which is further amplified as a result of the growing worldwide demand for products of animal origin and the increasingly accentuated trend towards industrialization and the intensification of livestock production.
In the last part of the didactic procedure the biological bases of nutrigenomics and epigenetics will be framed to obtain early diagnoses and timely therapies thanks to the identification of the genetic component that guides the susceptibility to the main infectious diseases (mainly the typical multifactorial ones of the zootechnical reality): a sustainable and innovative path to health.
At the end of the course, we will go on to plan and program a modern zootechny that combines environmental sustainability and production, guaranteeing efficiency in the production chain respecting the health of the animal and the consumer. This will be done by describing the strategy on four specific actions: interconnection between zootechnical productions and distribution dynamics; optimization of land use, water and chemical agents thanks to the evolution of zootechnical science; training of farmers, feed industry operators, slaughterhouse operators and the various actors in the supply chain; promotion of awareness of specific local zootechnical realities. Seminars will be organized in which sector experts will be involved. They will apporach absolutely transversal issues such as: air quality / residues in feed and milk; antibiotic resistance (EFSA Panel experts); use of pre and postbiotics as modulators of the intestinal microbiota. In the second part, general outlines of Epidemiology will be given aimed at the critical analysis of the main emergency and health situations of livestock animals.
The main Infectious Diseases of livestock will then be addressed by evaluating the diagnostic approach and possible prophylactic interventions (vaccination).
Specific zoonotic diseases and not of interest in veterinary Public Health will therefore be focused: Tuberculosis, Rabies, African Swine Fever, Poxvirus. The educational cycle will end with a comparative and updated analysis of the various epidemiological situations that can be reported to Covid in the strictly animal field.


Epidemiologia. Teoria ed esempi di medicina veterinaria. Bottarelli E e Ostanello F., Edagricole, 2011.
Trattato di malattie infettive degli animali. Scatozza F., Farina R., UTET, Torino, 1999.
Allevamento animale e sostenibilità ambientale. Le tecnologie. B. Stefanon, M. Mele, G. Pulina. Franco Angeli, 2018.
Nutrigenomica ed epigenomica. Dalla biologia alla clinica. D. Galimerti, G.B. Gidaro, V. Calabrese, A. Gelli, S. Govoni. Edra, 2017.
Health and the Gut. The Emerging role of intestinal microbiota in disease and therapeutics. Edited by William Olds. Apple Academic Press, 2015.
L’era dello sviluppo sostenibile. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Università Bocconi Editore, 2014.
The hologenome concept: human, animal and plant microbiota. E. Rosenberg, I.Z. Rosenberg. Springer, 2013.
Climzte change impact on livestock: adaptation and mitigation. V. Sejian, J. Gaughan, L. Baumgard, C. Prasad. Springer, 2015.
Argomenti di terapia batterica. Francesco Di Pierro. CEC Editore, 2019

Cultural Support Books

Missing microbes. Martin J. Blaser. Henry Wolt and Company New York, 2014.
Il cibo e la terra. Agricoltura, ambiente e salute negli scenari del nuovo millennio. Piero Bevilacqua. Rosso e Nero, 2018.
Il Clima è (già) cambiato. Stefano Caserini. Edizioni Ambiente, 2016.
Laudato sì. (Enciclica) Papa Francesco. Piemme Editore, 2015.

Teaching methods

The entire educational activity involves the use of slides (made available to the student at the beginning of the course, online: www.elly.veterinaria.unipr.it/2019/) in the frontal training course while the practical activity will take place in the laboratory and in the field during company visits (assessment of health and hygiene status and collection of samples, analysis of the same and critical and proactive interpretation of the results obtained). This strategic line will allow the student to acquire critical and interventional skills, both managerial and healthcare (based on a new methodological approach based on sustainable management of the entire livestock supply chain).
Laboratory activities as well as in the field (breeding, slaughter, processing companies) guarantee opportunities and incentives aimed at developing such decision-making and judgment skills; at the same time, didactic tools with a strong professional impact, are represented by internships or internships in companies in the sector and by the experimental thesis on original research topics. The verification of the acquisition of independent judgment takes place through the evaluation of the lessons of the student's individual study plan while the evaluation of the degree of autonomy and ability to work, even in groups, is verified during the research activities carried out in the period of thesis as well as during the Focus Groups (professors and stakeholders) organized with a view to systemic dynamics and dialectic and constructive comparison so important and incisive in corporate policies.
The verification of the application capacity of what has been learned will take place thanks to the final exam (the student will be guaranteed the opportunity to face the final exam by oral and / or written) which may include a support, in itinere, corresponding to personal papers (written reports o collective presentations through power point or poster set-up), written reports of practical cases addressed in the case-report studies (field exercises with teachers of different disciplinary fields) or focus groups.
A monothematic seminar activity is foreseen which will involve the participation of professors belonging to the course (disciplinary fields interconnected to infectious diseases), expert professionals and stakeholders who have actively participated in defining the content and cultural and professional character of the Study Program.
During the course we will proceed to start, in the classroom, moments of formative evaluation in itinere: will be administered tests with closed answers, with high structuring, administered through computer tools (tablet or smartphone). A collective correction will then be carried out in order to identify any critical nodes in the achievement of the learning objectives, in time to review their preparation before the summative assessment (test in the exam window with evaluation in thirty).
During the semester of delivery of the course, a multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary seminar activity will be organized during which the student will be an active part and at the end of which will produce a report (written in groups to assess the student's ability to work in group, team working). The student will be able to autonomously manage the process necessary to frame infectious diseases (with particular attention to surveillance, epidemiological control, environmental impact, control of zoonoses and protection of well-being and biodiversity). This path will start from samples taken in companies with different health and hygiene problems, identifying therapeutic protocols and possible vaccination and disinfection interventions.

Assessment methods and criteria

The student will be evaluated through an oral interview (four questions based formulated by each teacher engaged in the course) that will be immediately insufficient if the candidate does not have any or little knowledge of the basic concepts (climatic changes and impact on health, environment and animal health in the different scenarios of the new millennium). Once the first phase of the interview has been completed, the student's logical and critical ability to deal with a "simulation" of intervention in different types of livestock farming with health problems (infectious diseases) will be assessed by assessing their ability to integrate innovative interventions (on the front of prevention, therapeutic interventions, and sustainable supply chain management that protect welfare and sustainability.
At the same time terminological correctness, consistency between student response and question posed (identification of effective health interventions defining the functions of coordination and planning and monitoring), rigor and attention to the logic of the supply chain, demonstration will be evaluated and evaluated (implicit and necessary criteria). of a multisectoral and multidisciplinary systemic approach, demonstrating that they have acquired those transversal skills that are so decisive and incisive in professional life.
18-21: the student demonstrates that he has acquired the minimum logics necessary to deal effectively with health emergencies
22-26: the student reveals logical and planning skills
26-28: the student demonstrates critical and planning skills by demonstrating an absolutely multidisciplinary approach capable of being contextualised in the different health scenarios proposed during the examination phase
28-30 (and honors): the student confirms a multisectoral and multidisciplinary systemic approach, demonstrating that he has acquired those transversal skills that are so decisive and incisive in professional life, ensures a health management that follows the One Helath logic (system quality and behavior ).

In exceptional cases and, at the express request of the student himself, the verification in written form is foreseen. With regard to female students and students with specific learning disabilities (with reference to the ministerial decree 12th July 2011) dispensatory measures and compensatory tools will be applied, ie oral tests, use of PCs with spell check and speech synthesis, but above all, will be granted an extra time up to a maximum of 30% more or a quantitative reduction will be provided. In any case, the evaluation logic followed, in these circumstances, will evaluate the contents rather than the form.

Due to the pandemic trend and for a matter of protecting the well-being of the student, the examination method may include online execution on the Teams platform in compliance with the guidelines provided by the University.
In particular, a lot of attention will be paid to verifying the identity of the candidate.
This will be carried out by comparing the identification document previously sent by the student to the commission / teacher with the framed face.
The documents will be collected by the teachers before the session, by creating a specific folder on OneDrive or by sending them, via e-mail, to the Commission in the days prior to the exam date.

Other information

a) Knowledge and understanding: the student will acquire the basic knowledge related to the interpretative models used to evaluate, with reference to the different animal species of zootechnical interest, the main infectious diseases, especially those of a zoonotic nature contextualizing each of them within the new global dynamics resulting from Climate Change. The student will learn / assimilate the logic underlying the processes of determination and communication of results in a system perspective that involves the following figures: breeder, feeder, AUSL veterinarian, IZS operator, Emilia-Romagna regional committee (Rural development program), final consumer.
b) Applying knowledge and understanding: the student will be able to autonomously manage the process necessary to frame the main agents responsible for infectious diseases (both of clinical origin as well as coming from a food substrate); to then proceed to identify the necessary strategies in the therapeutic field but above all in a perspective of prevention and control; will be able to define and plan epidemiological surveillance plans for infectious and diffusive diseases of zootechnical animals; will be able to create monitoring paths along the entire supply chain in order to promote and manage the application of community and extra-community legislation; will be able to identify and plan future actions that contribute to a sustainable supply chain approach (environmental, economic and ethical impact). The student will be able to interpret organizational dynamics by identifying important and decisive roles and situations in terms of protecting animal health while respecting animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
c) Making judgments: the student will be able to profitably face the interpretative logic of the dynamics that regulates the aetiopathogenesis of different pathogens (of bacterial, mycetic or viral nature), also through the acquisition of an interpretative model suitable to interface with the different realities involved in the health sector. This logic will underlie the systemic approach inherent in the paradigm of One Health health (absolutely transversal that invests man-animal) and will take into account the inevitable health challenge to climate change and the implementation of sustainable feasibility plans.
d) Communication skills: at the end of the course the student will have acquired the ability to analyze problems (attitudes to problem solving), interpersonal skills and ability to express in written and oral form effectively and in a language appropriate to different interlocutors (breeders, AUSL veterinarians, IZS unit managers, regional project representatives, consumer). The student will be able to express his own conclusions regarding studies and analysis of the health problems analyzed, clearly explaining his own reasoning and his lines of intervention (therapy, vaccination plans, prevention measures).
e) Learning skills: the course aims to encourage student learning through a correct approach to individual study and the guided development of classroom exercises (during which the student must make operational and result management choices ). The teaching module invests in knowledge and innovation, stimulating creative competitiveness and proactivity in the livestock sector and ensuring a sustainable management of the environment and climate in order to favor a balanced territorial development (local, regional, Italian and foreign realities) and protection and safeguarding of well-being (animal and human).