Anthropology lecture focuses on why undulant fever existed in the Maltese islands

Dr. Lianne Tripp is a biomedical anthropologist at UNBC whose whose primary research area focuses on the demography and health of small-scale communities. UNBC photo
Dr. Lianne Tripp is a biomedical anthropologist at UNBC whose whose primary research area focuses on the demography and health of small-scale communities. UNBC photo

Undulant fever (also known as brucellosis) is a debilitating disease that is often caused by consuming unpasteurized goat’s milk.

Originally discovered in Malta in 1887, the undulant fever bacteria caused great illness in the Maltese islands throughout the 1900s.

An upcoming presentation by Dr. Lianne Tripp, an assistant professor from the University of Northern British Columbia’s Department of Anthropology, will focus on why the disease persisted on the Maltese islands for nearly 100 years.

Her talk, titled The (scape) goat: The tale of unpasteurized milk and undulant fever, is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at ArtSpace – above Books & Company in downtown Prince George.

“Today, although it is a little-known disease, undulant fever is one of the most common zoonotic diseases — one which is transmitted from animals to humans,” said Dr. Tripp. “Undulant fever is a cause for concern in the United States and in many countries in Asia, especially in areas where animal husbandry is common place. Studying infectious diseases and epidemics in the past, informs us about how the disease pathogen, the environment, and the culture and biology of population, intersect to promote the transmission of disease.”

Through comparisons with the British colony of Gibraltar, factors such as the cultural traditions of goat-herding and consumption of raw milk; and the distrust of colonizers and the scientific community will be discussed.

Dr. Tripp is a biomedical anthropologist whose primary research area focuses on the demography and health of small-scale communities. Her study populations are marginalized colonial settings situated in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her areas of interest include the study of epidemics, which have covered an array of infectious diseases: cholera, influenza, tuberculosis and undulant fever.

Dr. Tripp’s talk is the final of the fall presentations for UNBC’s Anthropology in our Backyards Speaker Series.