Understanding Zoonotic Diseases

October 8, 2013

Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are diseases that can transfer from an animal to a human, such as Lyme disease, rabies, the bird flu, toxoplasmosis and some intestinal parasites. As long as a bacteria, fungus, parasite and virus are able to pass between humans and animals, it can spur a zoonotic infection. Frequently, animals with zoonotic infections, such as cats with toxoplasmosis, do not exhibit outward symptoms. There are particular diseases that do make animals physically sick, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

How Zoonotic Diseases Spread

Humans contract these diseases several ways, according to the specific organism. One of the most common ways people get zoonotic diseases is through an infected animal’s feces, urine as well as direct contact with the diseased animal. Parasitic animal meat also spreads this kind of disease throughout communities of people. And fleas from a rat’s body pass the plague from rats to human.

How to Prevent Zoonotic Diseases

An animal with a possible zoonotic disease should be seen by a veterinarian right away. Your pet will be immediately quarantined until the specific disease is identified and addressed. Quarantine is necessary, so the disease is not spread to other animals and humans. If your pet can be helped, he will stay in isolation until the course of treatment is complete. Remember, prevention and early intervention is the two keys to keeping zoonotic diseases under control and saving a person or animal’s life.

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