DelVal Students Fight ‘X Fever,’ a Fictitious Disease Devised to Test Epidemiological Readiness

people in containment suits in a barn
Image via Delaware Valley University.
Delaware Valley University students worked with experts during a mock disease outbreak as part of One Health Week.

Fifty-seven Delaware Valley University students joined experts from the USDA and the Pa. Dept. of Agriculture to fight “X Fever.” The invented malady was devised to provide reality-based training in how to prevent and contain disease transmittals from animals to humans.

In the invented scenario, a woman contracted X Fever after coming in contact with livestock at “Anywhere University.”

The students conducted their research, examined livestock on DelVal’s campus farm, interviewed farm managers, assessed the local environment and wildlife, and developed a containment action plan. They even held a faux press conference, with questions from “reporters.”

Dr. Linda Detwiler, a DelVal dairy science alumna who works for the USDA, plans and executes the event each year. She is a veterinarian and leading animal disease specialist with experience in outbreaks that jump animals to humans.

“I think the drills provide students with a chance to see how we would handle a disease outbreak in the real world,” said Dr. Detwiler. “The actions they practice are what we actually do.”

Connor Kramer, a small animal science major, said the exercise gave him a “glimpse at the inner workings of an outbreak.”

The event was part of One Health Week, a subset of the university’s multidisciplinary approach to working for widespread well-being.

More information on this rehearsal for a major health crisis is at Delaware Valley University.