Zoonosis is another name for a zoonotic disease. This type of disease passes from an animal or insect to a human. Some don’t make the animal sick but will sicken a human.
Zoonotic diseases range from minor short-term illness to a major life-changing illness. Certain ones can even cause death.
The types of zoonosis include those caused by:
- a virus
Zoonotic diseases spread by mosquitos and ticks are some of the most serious of these diseases.
Examples of zoonotic diseases
- animal flu
- bird flu
- bovine tuberculosis
- Campylobacter infection
- cat scratch fever
- dengue fever
- encephalitis from ticks
- enzootic abortion
- fish tank granuloma
- hemorrhagic colitis
- hepatitis E
- hydatid disease
- listeria infection
- louping ill
- Lyme disease
- lymphocytic choriomeningitis
- orf infection
- parrot fever
- Q fever
- rat-bite fever
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Salmonella and E. coli infections
- streptococcal sepsis
- swine flu
- West Nile virus
- zoonotic diphtheria
How they are transmitted
Zoonoses can be transmitted in various ways:
- through the air
- by eating contaminated meat or produce
- through close contact with an infected animal
- by touching an area or surface that an infected animal touched
- through insect bites like mosquitos or ticks
Many transmissions occur when people hike, bike, boat, or enjoy other activities in the great outdoors.
Petting zoos are also common places for a zoonotic disease to be transmitted.
Those who live and work on farms are in close contact with many types of livestock. Livestock is a common carrier of many zoonoses.
Your family pet can carry ticks and fleas indoors that can then move onto you and your family.
What to do if you have a zoonotic disease
If you have or think you have a zoonotic disease, you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
If you’re scratched or bitten by an animal, be sure to have the animal thoroughly checked by a veterinarian. This is to make sure that they’re appropriately vaccinated and don’t have rabies or other zoonotic diseases.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, try to preserve the tick after removal in a safe container. This way it can be identified to narrow down the possible diseases that it might transmit and tested for any of those diseases.
Although zoonotic diseases are common, some people are at higher risk of getting them. These individuals may also have more severe reactions and symptoms. If you’re one of these individuals at risk, you should seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have a zoonotic disease. High-risk individuals include:
- pregnant women
- adults aged 65 or older
- children 5 years old or younger
- those with HIV
- those with cancer who are going through chemotherapy
- others with weakened immune systems
Zoonotic diseases are common everywhere in the world. However, the United States and other countries work constantly to reduce the number of illnesses caused by animals and insects. One way they do this is through creating food safety regulations. These regulations reduce the chances of getting a zoonotic disease from something you eat in a developed country.
There are also ways to help prevent getting a zoonotic disease. These include the following:
- Wash your hands diligently.
- Use insect repellent or other methods to keep mosquitos, fleas, and ticks away.
- Practice safe food handling. This includes washing off all produce before eating it.
- Avoid being bitten or scratched by an animal.
- Have your pets vaccinated and take them for regular annual visits to the veterinarian.
- Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate flea and tick preventatives for your pets.
- Check for ticks when you’ve been outside.
- Don’t eat, drink, or touch your eyes or mouth while you’re handling or in close contact with animals.
- Use gloves if you need to handle an animal that is or appears to be sick.
- Keep any areas where animals are kept clean and sanitary.
- Be aware of areas where animals or insects might be when you’re out in nature, especially when you participate in activities like hunting and camping.
- Don’t handle or approach any animal in the wild that appears sick. Be sure to contact animal control or the local government to have the sick animal removed.
The seriousness and outlook of zoonotic diseases vary depending on the type of disease you have. Many are treatable, while others can cause serious long-term and even lifelong and fatal conditions. So it’s important that you check with your doctor or a medical professional as soon as you think you might have a zoonotic disease. It’s also an important reason to practice prevention around any animals, wild or domestic.