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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

VTEC 1231: Immunology and Animal Diseases


In this course students are introduced to the body’s defense mechanisms against disease and students examine how the veterinary team contributes to building a healthy immunity in domestic animals. Emphasis is on key cells and body defense mechanisms of the immune system and how it develops. Through clinical examples, with an emphasis on Zoonotic diseases, students investigate mechanisms by which causative agents evade the immune system and create disease.

Learning outcomes

  1. Compare and contrast innate and adaptive immune systems to provide an overview of the body’s immunity.
  2. Using examples, investigate the mechanisms by which infectious pathogens evade and non-infectious processes alter the immune system to create disease.
  3. Define zoonotic and reportable diseases in Canada and articulate guidelines to promote safety in the workplace.
  4. Outline the causes of immune system malfunction and describe their consequences on the body.
  5. Discuss common laboratory tests used in animal disease investigation and articulate your role as an RVT while processing contagions.
  6. Outline methods of disease prevention incorporating vaccination theory, the application of vaccine schedules, and effective animal husbandry practices.

Course topics

  • Module 1: Introduction to Immunology and the Innate Immune System
  • Module 2: Adaptive (Specialized) Immune System
  • Module 3: Immunity—Development in the Fetus and Newborn
  • Module 4: Building Immunity—Vaccines and Vaccination
  • Module 5: Common Lab Tests
  • Module 6: Infectious Disease and Zoonosis
  • Module 7: Mechanisms of Disease—Infectious
  • Module 8: Mechanisms of Disease—Non-Infectious
  • Module 9: Rabies and Sample Submissions
  • Module 10: Small Animal Diseases
  • Module 11: Large Animal Diseases
  • Module 12: The Immune System Gone Wrong

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Sompayrac, L. M. (2019). How the Immune System Works (6th ed.) Wiley.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-1-119-54212-4


  1. Sompayrac, L. M. (2023). How the Immune System Works (7th ed.) Wiley.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-1-119-89068-3

Note: Either edition is acceptable.

The following textbooks would have been purchased in VTEC 1101 and VTEC 1593. If students don't already own the required textbooks, please be aware that students will need to purchase them. To do so, please contact Enrolment Services at or 1.800.663.9711 (toll-free in Canada), 250.852.7000 (Kamloops, BC), and 1.250.852.7000 (International).

  1. Bassert, J.M. (2022). McCurnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians (10th ed.) Elsevier.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9780323722001
  1. Colville, T. P., & Bassert, J. M. (2016). Clinical anatomy and physiology for veterinary technicians (3rd ed.). Elsevier.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-323-29475-1

Material from the following resource is also used in this course, and is available for free at the provided link:

  1. Aiello, S. E., & Moses, M. A. (Eds.). (2016). The Merck veterinary manual (11th ed.). Merck & Co.
    ISBN-13: 978-0911910612 (This textbook is available online at: Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual)

Additional requirements

  • A computer with Internet access
  • A camera or cell phone for recording video and/or taking photos


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 60% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Quiz 1: Innate Immune System 3%
Major Project – Part 1: Proposal 3%
Quiz 2: Adaptive Immune System 3%
Assignment 1: Clinic Handout – Immunity in the Newborn 5%
Assignment 2: In Clinic Discussion – Vaccinations 4%
Quiz 3: Vaccines and Administration 3%
Assignment 3: Lab Test Chart 3%
Major Project – Part 2: Rough Draft 6%
Quiz 4: Mechanisms of Disease – Infectious 3%
Quiz 5: Mechanisms of Disease – Non-infectious 3%
Assignment 4: Rabies Scenarios 5%
Quiz 6: Rabies and Small Animal Diseases 5%
Assignment 5: Clinical Case Debriefing 3%
Major Project – Part 3:Written Submission 7%
Major Project – Part 4: Video Presentation 4%
Final Exam (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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