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Environmental Health course at UW-L learning from COVID-19

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - COVID-19, alongside other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS are a hot topic right now in UW-L's Environmental Health course.

The class, taught by Dr. Dan Duquette, focuses on real-life examples of the viral interaction between people, the environment and animals. Of course, now, students have a real-life scenario playing out in front of them.

Dr. Duquette says that viruses don't always operate with just human to human contact. "Viruses that we find or bacteria that we find in animals crossing over to humans. That being animal to human contact, that being animal to vectors such as mosquitos such as West Nile, SARS, and MERS are some of the recent examples," said Duquette.

The newest virus added to that list, COVID- 19. According to the CDC, early cases are believed to be linked to a live animal market in Wuhan, China, and may be traced to bats.

"Bats are huge harborers of viruses for a variety of reasons, and that somehow crossed over or spilled over to the human population," said Duquette. "It could have been in the human population for a while and as it mutates it becomes more and more of a concern."

A concern that students in the Community/Public Health program are eager to turn into a learning opportunity, especially Junior Anna Kohlnhofer. "There is a lot of paranoia and it's really important that people have the right facts," said Kohlnhofer. "Public health is really big on just educating people, so it's really important that we are educated on the topic in different ways to prevent the spread."

While they may not have all of the answers now, some of these students could very well help put an end to devastating viruses in the future. That's the main hope of Dr. Duquette. "Students believe then that the stuff we are talking about is real," said Duquette. "They actually know that what they are learning in the classroom is important and applies to what is happening outside of the classroom."

To learn more about COVID-19, click here.

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Warren Sears

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