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Lecture examines wildlife, people and shared diseases


Fairbanks, Alaska—As humans and animals come into more frequent contact the consequences for both populations will be profound, and Alaska is no exception. Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans or vice versa – called zoonoses – such as Ebola, tularemia, and West Nile virus have and will continue to threaten human society.

World-renowned wildlife disease expert Peter J. Hudson will present the 2012 Irving-Scholander Memorial Lecture “Just When You Thought it was Safe: The Ecology and Rise of Emerging Diseases” at 6 p.m. April 26 in the Arnold Espe auditorium of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The public lecture is free and seating is limited.

“Every year we observe new emerging diseases that threaten the human population and yet we don't really understand where they come from and the processes involved in their emergence and spread,” said Hudson, Willaman professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University. “Studies of wild animals provide some really great insights; we can observe what happens in natural situations when we reintroduce clean uninfected individuals into areas they used to inhabit or when new hosts are introduced into novel habitats.”

Hudson will describe discoveries about the sources of emerging zoonotic diseases, their effects on animal populations and the strategies scientists are developing to control them.

“Animals are changing where they live and move due to encroachment of people into wilderness and climate change,” said Perry Barboza, University of Alaska Fairbanks wildlife biologist. “When this happens there are new opportunities for disease exchange.”

Since 1981, the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and Institute of Marine Science have sponsored the annual Irving-Scholander Memorial Lecture Series to bring an outstanding life scientist to campus to present two formal lectures and to meet with faculty members, students and staff members for informal discussions.
Previous speaker abstracts and biographies are online at: http://www.iab.uaf.edu/events/irving_scholander.php. Hudson’s abstract is also available there, and a recording of his lecture will be posted there after the event. Support for this series comes from contributions to the Irving-Scholander Memorial Lecture Series endowment at the University of Alaska Foundation: http://www.iab.uaf.edu/giving.php.

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