65976 - Epidemiology And Veterinary Parasitology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Animal Production (cod. 8882)

Learning outcomes

Al termine dell'insegnamento, lo studente acquisisce conoscenze di base per la descrizione della distribuzione spazio-temporale degli eventi, patologici e non patologici, in una popolazione animale, e per l'analisi dei fattori e delle loro interrelazioni che condizionano la salute e il rendimento produttivo. Acquisisce inoltre conoscenze di base di parassitologia veterinaria con particolare riferimento agli agenti eziologici di maggiore importanza per le produzioni animali e per la sanità pubblica, ai fattori di rischio a livello ambientale e di allevamento e alle misure di controllo. In particolare lo studente è in grado di collaborare con veterinari pubblici e privati : - nel valutare e minimizzare i rischi per la salute e la produttività degli animali; - nelle azioni di sorveglianza e controllo dei parassiti; - nella tutela della sanità animale e dei consumatori; - nel valutare l'efficacia e l'efficienza degli interventi sanitari e non; - nella ottimizzazione delle produzioni animali. - nel promuovere un corretto rapporto uomo-animali-ambiente.

Course contents

Introduction to epidemiology and veterinary parasitology

  • Definitions and aims of epidemiology. General concepts and principles of veterinary epidemiology, applied to animal productions.
  • Health and illness concept.
  • Trasmissible diseases and contagious diseases. Difference between infection and disease.
  • Relationship between ecology and epidemiology. Parasitism as a kind of symbiosis. Definition of parasitism.

General concepts of veterinary parasitology.

  • Macroparasites and microparasites.
  • Systematics of parasites and main biological characters of the most important taxonomic groups of veterinary interest (protozoa, nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, arthropods).
  • Biological cycle of the parasites and its characterization (direct and indirect cycles; concept of vector, definitive host and intermediate host).
  • Aggregation of parasites in host populations
  • Importance of parasitosis in animal production.

Frequency measurements in disease epidemiology.

  • Prevalence; prevalence is a proportion.
  • Incidence rate; rate concept.
  • Cumulative incidence: the probability of getting infected.
  • Peculiarities in the the epidemiology of macroparasites: abundance, mean intensity and aggregation indices. Force of infection.


  • Causality and risk. Definition of risk and of risk factor. Absolute risk and its relationship with incidence. Odds.
  • Relative risk (RR) and attributable risk (RA).
  • Attributable risk in exposed (RAE) and attributable risk in population (RAP).
  • Longitudinal studies (cohort studies) and cross-sectional studies (case-control).
  • Odds-ratio.

Pattern of infections and diseases

  • Sporadic, endemic and epidemic infections.
  • How the structure and dynamics of host populations can change the pattern of infections.
  • Notes on the study of the spatial pattern of infections.
  • Definition of “basic reproductive number (R0) for micro and macroparasites; concept of threshold density.
  • Reservoir
  • Peculiarities in the study of macroparasite infection patterns.

Evaluation of diagnostic tests.

  • Accuracy and precision;
  • Sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests.
  • Positive predictive value (VPP) and negative predictive value (VPN) and their relation to prevalence.
  • Main diagnostic tests in veterinary parasitology.

Surveillance, monitoring, control

  • Active and passive surveillance. Monitoring.
  • Sampling for monitoring and active surveillance.
  • Principles for the control and prevention of infections in animal populations.
  • Causes and consequences of parasite aggregation in host populations.
  • Risk factors and parasite control in intensive and extensive farming.
  • Pharmacological treatments for parasite prevention, therapy and control: pros and cons.
  • Parasites and Public Health: zoonoses.

Special parasitology *


  • Intestinal coccidia
  • Toxoplasma
  • Notes on haemosporidia, ciliates, flagellates and amoebae.


  • Trichinella spp.
  • Ascarids
  • Gastrointestinal strongyles
  • Lungs strongyles


  • Fasciola hepatica
  • Dicrocoelium dendriticum
  • Calicophoron (ex Paramphistoma) spp.


  • Taenia spp.
  • Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis
  • Anoplocephalidae


  • Mange mites
  • Hard and soft ticks
  • Aetiological agents of myiasis
  • Notes on other ectoparasites

* for each specifically treated parasite, the following will be studied:

  • main characteristics of the taxonomic group and of the specific etiological agent, with particular attention to the biological cycle;
  • notes on pathogenesis, principal anatomopathological lesions, symptomatology and diagnostics;
  • epidemiology, prophylaxis and non-pharmacological control .


Teacher slides and document on https://iol.unibo.it/, integrated with

  • Veterinary epidemiology. Thrusfield M. -Blackwell publishing. III edizione
  • Parasitology in Veterinary medicine. Deplazes P. et al. -Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen the Netherlands.

Also useful:

  • Epidemiologia. Teoria ed esempi di medicina veterinaria. Bottarelli E., Ostanello F. -Edagricole, Milano. –integrabile sul sito: http://www.quadernodiepidemiologia.it/epi/HomePage.html
  • Guida allo studio della Parassitologia. Pampiglione S., Canestri Trotti G. -Società Editrice Esculapio, Bologna.
  • Parassitologia - a cura di Frank E. G. Cox. Zanichelli, Bologna.
  • Parasitology: a conceptual approach. Loker E.S. & Hofkin B.V. - Garland Science- Taylor & Francis Group, New york and London.
  • Parassitologia e Malattie Parassitarie degli animali. Taylor M.A. et al. Edizione italiana a cura di Garippa G. et al. -Edizioni Mediche Scientifiche Internazionali, Roma.
  • Parassitologia zootecnica. Ambrosi M. -Edagricole, Bologna.

Teaching methods

The following methods will possibly be modified in relation to the measures adopted by the University and the Department in relation to the ongoing epidemic emergency.


Frontal lessons.

Classroom/laboratory exercises:

  • Observations of museum specimens and digital images for the recognition of the main morphological characteristics of macroparasites.
  • Presentation of simple epidemiological problems to be solved by working in small groups and discussed in the classroom.
  • Group work for the development of self learning ability: in class and elaboration of a brief sheet relating to the main biological and epidemiological characteristics of a new parasite
  • Guided critical analysis of real monitoring plans with integration of various aspects covered during the course.

    If possible, guided tours of zootechnical farms will be organized in collaboration with professors responsible for other courses in the degree course.
  • The students have to carry out modules 1 and 2 in e-learning mode [https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e -assistance / health-and-safety / safety-and-health-in-study-places-and-internship] and participate to module 3 of specific training on safety and health in study places. Information on dates and methods of attendance can be consulted in the specific section of the degree program website: https://corsi.unibo.it/laurea/ProduzioniAnimali/sicurezza-e-salute-sul-lavoro-formazione-obbligatoria-per-gli-studenti

All the material used during the lessons (with the exclusion of museum specimens) will be uploaded on the Moodle platform https://iol.unibo.it/. The Moole platform will also be useful for non-attending students thanks to the inclusion of tasks, quizzes for self-assessment, images, etc.

The frequency of the course will not directly affect the final evaluation. The learning process will however be extremely improved by the interaction, in class and during exercises, with the teacher and fellow students, making the frequency advisable.

Assessment methods

The exam is oral .

The evaluation will take into account: the knowledge acquired (30%), the expression capacity (20%) and the acquisition and understanding of the concepts and connections between the various parts of the course (50%).

To pass the exam they are fundamental:

  • knowledge of the cycle and of the epidemiology of parasites treated
  • the acquisition of the basic concepts of epidemiology and parasitology
  • the ability to use the correct terminology

The final point will be obtained calculating the weighted arithmetic mean of the result of the two courses that compose the integrated course.

Teaching tools

PC, projector, slide, Moodle.

Parasite museum specimens, textbooks and documents provided by the teacher for classroom practical activities.

Quiz, homework and self-assessment test on Moodle.

Office hours

See the website of Laura Stancampiano


Zero hunger Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.