The CCWHC Alberta node was established in 2005 and has been advancing its operations as the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) at the University of Calgary has developed. The UCVM, also established in 2005, accepted its first class of students in the fall of 2008. Its mission is to meet the veterinary, animal and public health needs of Alberta with particular emphasis on veterinary medical education; clinical, diagnostic and professional teaching/services and research/service activities that promote animal and human health in Alberta, Canada and internationally.
The CCWHC Alberta node is largely funded through the base-operating grant for UCVM. When considering the emphasis of the Alberta node, there was a consensus in Alberta and the CCWHC leadership that expertise in wildlife parasitology would be an important contribution to the CCWHC mission. Dr. Manigandan Lejeune was recently hired to develop and support the wildlife parasitology activities of the CCWHC. Dr. Lejeune holds a Master's in Veterinary Parasitology from India and a PhD in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the University of Calgary, Canada. Dr. Lejeune's role is to provide expertise in morphological and molecular identification of parasites in our Canadian wildlife which will include diagnostic test development and application. He, together with others at the Alberta CCWHC office, are also available to provide advice on wildlife parasitology issues including study design, sampling, preservation and the ecology of parasitism.
National wildlife disease surveillance and training remains a key part of CCWHC's mission. In Alberta, the CCWHC will work with pathologists at the UCVM and staff from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation and Parks Canada to complement existing wildlife disease surveillance activities. Pathologists at the UCVM include a truly international team consisting of Drs. Carmen Fuentealba and Oscar Illanes from Chile, Amy Warren from Australia and Padraig Duignan from Ireland. Dr. Duignan has recently joined UCVM and was hired specifically for his interest and expertise in wildlife pathology.
The Alberta node of the CCWHC looks to be an important contributor to the over-all activities of the network. With the strong emphasis on ecosystem and public health at UCVM, the teaching cases and research material will provide additional benefits to our DVM and graduate programs.
By: Susan Kutz, CCWHC - Alberta Regional Centre