Epidemiology of Animal Infectious Diseases

As one of the very few online medical courses in veterinary epidemiology that is available, this course is highly suitable for veterinary researchers with an interest in epidemiology. It is taught by epidemiologists from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and forms part of the MSc Epidemiology program of the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

Dr. ir. E.A.J. (Egil) Fischer
Assistant Professor infectious disease dynamics
Quick overview
  • 6 weeks - 14 hrs / wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 3.0 EC
  • Online
  • English
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Enrollment closes 21/04/2025 281 days left to apply
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Course description

Infectious diseases are an important cause of disease burden in animals, as well as economic costs. First, you will focus on the quantification of transmission in animals. You will not only learn the basic theory of mathematical modelling of animal infectious diseases. This theory is put to practice to quantify transmission parameters from observational data as well as designing and analyzing transmission experiments. After that you will focus on outbreak investigation, risk assessment and animal disease monitoring.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you will be able to:
• Understand the basic concepts in infectious disease epidemiology: R0, epidemic growth rate, generation time, SIR-model, transmission coefficient and infectious period.
• Analyze infectious disease data
• Estimate R0, epidemic growth rate, infectious period from field (sero)prevalence data
• Transmission experiments
• Understand the basic concepts of infectious disease risk mapping
• Know how to perform both qualitative and quantitative risk assessments
• Design an animal health surveillance scheme

Course topics

• Introduction to infectious disease modelling
• Estimation of transmission parameters from field data
• Estimation of transmission parameters from transmission experiments
• Assessment of interventions
• Analyses of veterinary data sets I: LPAI
• Measures against infectious disease epidemics in animals and humans
• Risk Analysis
• Outbreak investigation
• Monitoring and surveillance


The exam will consist of an open book and you will have 2 hours to complete it. The exams are, by default, online using online proctoring. If you wish to take the exam on-site in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this is possible as well.

Exam edition April 2024
The exam will take place on June 7th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on July 26th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.

The exam is not compulsory. However, if you want to receive the Course Certificate and the credits, it is obligatory to take the exam.

It might be that, due to a force majeure situation, you cannot be present during the first exam moment.
• MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate students must then, preferably prior to the first exam option, ask the academic counsellor for permission to be absent. Please note that the academic counsellor can ask for some form of proof of your absence (e.g. in case of illness) to establish if you are applicable for authorized absence. Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed, MSc is the academic counsellor you need to turn to through adviseurs@umcutrecht.nl.
• All other participants should contact the MSc Epidemiology Office instead, through MSc-Epidemiology@umcutrecht.nl.

In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first exam option and -automatically- enrol in the second (re-sit) exam. Unauthorized absence during the first exam period results in no longer being able to finish the course that college year.

Requirements & material

To enroll in this course, you need:
• Completed the course Modern methods in Data Analysis and/or Generalized Linear Models (or equivalent course)
• Basic skill in R (or in another computer language such as Python or C++)
• Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

For this course, the following book is used:
‘Veterinary Epidemiology: An Introduction’ by Dirk Pfeiffer, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4051-7694-1.
The book by Dirk Pfeiffer is also available as a PDF file for participants in this course.

For further and more in-depth reading, we recommend:
‘Modeling Infectious Diseases in Humans and Animals’ by Matt Keeling & Pejman Rohani (2007) – ISBN 978-0-691116-17-4

Bundle 20% discount

Veterinary Epidemiology is broad concept therefore there were multiple online courses created. These courses can be ordered in a bundle. This bundle consists out of 3 online courses: Study Design for Veterinary Epidemiology, Epidemiology of Animal Infectious Diseases and Hands-on Veterinary Epidemiology. The bundle offers 20% discount, read more about it here.

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