Definition of Zoonotic Disease


Definition: An infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

A number of infectious diseases, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, can be transmitted from animals to people through a variety of infection routes, including animal bites, vectors (i.e., insects), and animal-to-human contact (i.e., inhalation of respiratory droplets or skin-to-skin contact). Some examples of common zoonotic diseases include Ebola, rabies, ringworm, tularemia, and plague.

There are a variety of animals that can spread Zoonoses. Infections may spread from bats - like Ebola and rabies. Bats often spread infections because they can carry a number of infections that bother us, but do not bother them. They may spread from cats or rats. New infections may arrive in the form of zoonoses.

Zoonoses are the cause of many illnesses. These can be caused by a whole range of pathogems. These can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.

These can be scary infections and mild infections. These infections include Ebola, Rabies, Leptospirosis,Brucella, Anthrax, Bird Flu, Marburg, Lassa Fever, and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever, to name a few. These can include mild infections that don't bother us and deadly infections for which we have little treatment.

One disease that used to be common was Bovine Tuberculosis, from cows, which we don't have to worry about now because of careful control of cattle and because we pasteurize milk now.

Pasteurization of milk was really important in stopping a zoonotic disease that used to make many very sick.

There aren't vaccines for many Zoonotic infections. It's important to get a Rabies vaccine if you are exposed to an animal that may have had rabies.

These infections can be caught from hunting animals, pets, farm animals, their droppings, or from animals we don't even know we've come in contact with.

It's important to take pets to the  vet to keep them safe but also you and your entire family. It's important that farms work with vets too and are careful with the use of antibiotics, so as to not develop resistant organisms. It's also important when hunting to not become exposed to any diseases that an animal that is hunted may have. Sometimes an animal imported - either to be a pet, in a zoo, or for food - can lead to the spread of a zoonotic infection.

There is a concern that infections we don't know that are out there might cause zoonotic infections we won't know immediately how to handle. There are scientists who study these infections. They may travel to areas such as forests to try to find out what pathogens bats or other animals may carry.

There are also diseases that spread primarily between people and then can spread to animals. Primates can get sick from humans sometimes. This might happen in a zoo or it might happen in the forest where they live. They may have been isolated from many of the infections we have so it might mean that the primates get really sick and die from what barely made the human who was infected sick at all.

Animals may be sick from the disease that causes the zoonosis or they may not be. There are animals that can carry infections and not be sick. Bats often don't get sick with what makes us sick. They can get sick with other infections more specific to them.Other times an animal might not seem particularly ill but the infection can be very severe in an unsuspecting human.

Pronunciation: zoo-uh-NOH-sis

Also Known As: zoonosis, zoonoses (plural)

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