Questions for ‘Linking animal health to human health’


Although sharks and intestinal worms are leading causes of deeaths in California’s southern sea otters, another one may be a parasite shed by pet cats, researchers recently showed.

Mike Baird/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Before Reading:

  1. When you think of veterinary medicine, what kinds of animals come to mind? Where would you expect to see these health-care experts working?
  2. If you could become the world’s top expert on any one animal species, which one would you choose? And why?

During Reading:

  1. What is the name for a disease that spreads from non-human animals to people?
  2. What are three examples of animals that have been infected by diseases carried by humans?
  3. According to this article, what do you call the scientific and medical approach that links the well-being of all species?
  4. How do doctors in the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project try to protect lowland gorillas from human viruses?
  5. What is the goal of the PREDICT project?
  6. Why are researchers mapping the locations where particular viruses are found in animals?
  7. What species was Ilaria Agostini studying in Argentina when a yellow fever outbreak sparked her work in conservation?
  8. How could keeping an eye out for monkeys infected with yellow fever help people?
  9. What is the name of the parasite that normally infects cats but which also infected and killed sea otters off the coast of California?
  10. According to the research cited in the story, how could those otters have become infected?

After Reading:

  1. What do you think might be the reason that public health officials in Argentina can’t just give everyone vaccines to protect them from yellow fever?  
  2. The research on Toxoplasma gondii infection in sea otters involved researchers in many fields, including veterinary medicine, hydrology, oceanography, and biology. What might make it hard for scientists from all those different fields to work together?


  1. Nine respiratory outbreaks struck gorillas during a 15 year period. Nine more struck in the next five years. How many outbreaks, on average, occurred per year over the entire period? How many per year, on average, struck in that first 15 years? How many on average in the second period? Show your work.
  2. Patricia Conrad analyzed 105 sea otter deaths. More than 16 percent had encephalitis. At a minimum, how many deaths does that 16 percent amount to? If it had been 37 percent, how many deaths (at a minimum) would that be? Show your work.