EPIWild UACh researchers presented studies on wildlife diseases at an important international congress

Daniela Contreras
December 15, 2023
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The VI Biennial Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association Latin America (WDA) was held in Guatemala, where researchers of the EPIWild project led by the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the Universidad Austral de Chile, were rapporteurs of specialized workshops, presented keynote lectures, along with oral presentations and posters. The director of EPIWild, Dr. Gerardo Acosta, also assumed the presidency of the WDA for the period 2023-2025, consolidating the presence of the UACh in the field of research at the international level.

Under the slogan "One Health: Walking together, science and society", the VI Biennial WDA Conference was held in Antigua, Guatemala. This initiative brings together academics, professionals and students from 12 Latin American countries to acquire, disseminate and apply knowledge on the health and diseases of wild animals in relation to their biology, conservation and interactions with humans, domestic animals and the environment.

In order to present the research and work done by academics from the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the UACh in this area, the EPIWild Ring project team (ATE220062) composed of its director, Dr. Gerardo Acosta; researchers Drs. Claudio Verdugo and Cristóbal Verdugo; and graduate student Kiara Fernández traveled to this Central American country to conduct various academic activities and international relations.

All the works, workshops and papers presented by the EPIWild team put the UACh at the forefront of research on emerging diseases worldwide, where the study of the interface between wildlife and anthropogenic environments is of vital importance in view of the risk of future pandemics. Specifically, the researchers addressed aspects of the effect of "global change" have modified the transmission of diseases between wildlife and domestic animals and human populations.

Dr. Gerardo Acosta presented the keynote lecture "Living in a stressful environment: Dynamics of rodent health in wild interface areas" where he presented his research related to how epidemiological surveillance can determine the effect of the interaction between domestic animals, wildlife and humans on human and animal health and the conservation of wild species, with emphasis on the emergence of diseases.

Claudio Verdugo and Cristóbal Verdugo were the speakers at the pre-biennial workshop entitled "Introduction to Molecular Epidemiology of Emerging Pathogens", which addresses the use of genotyping and genomic tools for the study of diseases at the population level. In addition, Dr. Claudio Verdugo made a presentation within the Infectious and Non-Infectious Diseases in Wildlife panel, while Dr. Cristóbal Verdugo and graduate student Kiara Fernández presented a poster, where she won second place among all those presented.

"The biennial meetings of the WDA are very important for those of us who work in the study of wildlife diseases, as they allow us to share experiences with colleagues from all over Latin America. As EPIWild it allowed us to present ourselves once again as leaders in research in the area, leading outstanding participations in pre-congress workshops, giving keynote talks and also presenting important advances in the work we do as a group. All this allowed us to have meetings with colleagues who were interested in our work and who will apply for graduate and postdoctoral studies offered by EPIWild", said Dr. Acosta.

On the other hand, Dr. Acosta was elected president of the WDA Latin America for the period 2023-2025, which will strongly consolidate the presence of the UACh and the academics of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences at the forefront of research on emerging diseases worldwide. 

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