Conservation Practices and the Infection Risk of Tick-borne Zoonotic Diseases in the Southern Okanagan

Biodiversity is critical in mediating, and even preventing, the spread of emerging zoonotic diseases, or diseases that are transmissible from wildlife to human populations. These include avian flu and Hantavirus. Understanding how threats to biodiversity conservation may also threaten human health is urgent, particularly as human development, changing environmental conditions and global trade are facilitating the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases. Biodiversity conservation planning could play an important role in mediating the impact of diseases on wildlife and human health through initiatives such as reducing habitat fragmentation and encouraging conservation-oriented development. This research will study the impacts of development and conservation activities on emerging zoonotic diseases in human and wildlife populations. The intern will focus on the relationship of land-use change and conservation efforts to the spread and impact of tick-borne zoonotic diseases, such as Lyme Disease in the Okanagan-Similkameen in BC. By doing so, the research will further our understanding of the relationship between biodiversity and emerging infectious disease and also to the nascent field of conservation medicine, where human and ecosystem concerns overlap.

Intern: 
Jack Teng
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Kai Chan
Province: 
British Columbia
Sector: 
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