Zoonotic Diseases- What Are They and How Can You Prevent Them?

January 29, 2016By

Zoonotic diseases are those that can pass from animals to humans through different types of contact. Some of the most common forms of zoonotic disease are those that are transmitted from insects, but there are many that can pass from other animals to humans. With many of these diseases, the person does not even need to come in direct contact with the animal for the infection to occur. Zoonotic diseases can result in severe illness and in some cases, the disease can be deadly. To protect yourself and those you care about from the dangers of zoonotic disease, it’s important to know more about the animals that may carry them and different steps that can be taken toward prevention.

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What are zoonotic diseases?

Any disease that can be passed from an animal to a human would be considered a zoonotic disease. This covers a vast range of illnesses and they can be transmitted through a variety of different forms of contact. Bacteria, parasites, a virus and different types of fungi could cause a zoonotic disease and they can be carried by animals that are both wild and domestic. The threat of zoonotic disease is a significant concern across the world and it can affect people regardless of their location or their position in the economic strata.

Some of the most common forms of zoonotic disease include rabies, Lyme disease, salmonella, dengue fever, West Nile virus, E coli and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

How do you get them?

As mentioned above, zoonotic diseases are those that pass from animals to humans. The transmission can occur through direct contact with the animal, or it could occur through indirect means like coming into contact with blood, urine, feces or saliva from an infected animal. The bite from a mosquito or tick could result in various forms of zoonotic disease and eating foods or drinking beverages that have been infected could cause an illness.

The following are a few examples of specific ways in which people may come in contact with zoonotic disease.

  • Being bitten by a tick or mosquito
  • Drinking unpasteurized milk or eating undercooked meat
  • Being bitten by an animal that has a disease like rabies
  • Handling an infected animal
  • Cleaning up after an infected animal
  • Handling food products that are infected

Dangers

With many zoonotic diseases, the effects can be fatal. The risk is especially great for children, the elderly and for women that are pregnant. A person with a weakened immune system will also be at a greater risk for infection, and death in connection with a zoonotic disease may occur. It is estimated that about 60% of all human disease is the result of a zoonotic infection, and while many of these cases do not result in fatality, the danger of death is present and, depending on the disease, the impact on the person’s health could be permanent.

With zoonotic diseases being common and dangerous, the need for awareness and prevention will be critical for protecting humans against infection.

Prevention

While zoonotic diseases are common and they can be transmitted in various ways, people can take steps to significantly reduce the threat of infection. The first step in prevention is to know the different ways in which exposure to these diseases may occur, and the different activities that could lead to an increased risk of exposure. If you enjoy the outdoors, then you are going to want to be aware of the possibility for exposure when you are in wooded or bushy areas. If you work with animals, or go to a place where you are in contact with animals, it is important to be conscious of the threat of disease. Additionally, when you are handling or preparing food, it is important to take precautions against infection.

For many of the risks that come with handling animals or coming in contact with animal products, washing your hands will be a good preventative measure. If you are going to be outdoors, you also want to make sure to prevent insect bites by using insect repellant, and if you have been in an area where there may be ticks, you will need to check your body and remove any ticks that may have attached to your skin.

Most people do not spend a whole lot of time thinking about zoonotic diseases, but they are serious concern. Taking preventative measures against these diseases will be the best form of protection that you can have, but if you or someone that you know is exposed to a zoonotic disease, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact us today if you think you may have any pests around that can transmit zoonotic diseases.

Filed in: Zoonotic