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 mosquitoes and ticks are some of the most serious of these diseases.
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
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.
COVID-19 is spread through human-to-human transmission.
We already know a lot about other viruses in the coronavirus family and most of these types of viruses have an origin in animals. The COVID-19 virus (also called SARS-CoV-2) is a new virus in humans. The possible animal source of COVID-19 has not yet been confirmed but research is ongoing.
WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update, as new findings are available.
Several dogs and cats (domestic cats and a tiger) in contact with infected humans have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, ferrets appear to be susceptible to the infection. In experimental conditions, both cats and ferrets were able to transmit infection to other animals of the same species, but there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to humans and play a role in spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
It is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 and people who are at risk limit contact with companions and other animals. When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing after handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.
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.
This post is also available in: KH