Whether domestic or wild, animals are a vitally important inhabitant of our planet and we have learned to co-exist with many of them in relative harmony. Like us, they can be healthy, or they can suffer from illness or disease. Since animals do not have the same disease-prevention awareness as we do, when they become sick with a contagious or infectious condition, it can spread very quickly amongst their population. In some cases, it can also be transmitted to humans that they come into contact with.
Whether you are an experienced pet owner, or if you have only recently adopted an animal into your home, there is a good chance that you haven’t heard of zoonosis. Nevertheless, it is something that everyone, and in particular pet owners, should be aware of.
What Is Zoonosis?
Zoonosis is the term used to describe diseases that are able to be transmitted from animals to humans. Typically, these are humans that they live with or come into direct contact with, such as visitors to your home. The diseases themselves are often called zoonotic diseases.
Although many people haven’t heard of zoonosis, it is actually fairly common and as many as 61% of human diseases are believed to be zoonotic by nature. Many people are also being discovered each year, with around 6% of new diseases estimated to have zoonotic origins.
Some of the zoonotic diseases you may have heard of include E.Coli, Lyme Disease, Rabies, Salmonella, Ebola, West Nile Virus, Swine Flu, and Zika Virus.
How Are Zoonotic Diseases Transmitted?
Zoonotic diseases are much like any other infectious condition in that they are primarily spread through contact. This includes:
Direct contact. Coming into direct contact with the bodily fluid of an infected animal is the easiest way to contract a zoonotic disease. This includes saliva, urine, feces, mucus and blood.
Indirect contact. If you handle an object or touch something that has been contaminated with the bodily fluids of an infected animal, there is a serious risk that you will contract a zoonotic disease. Many experts attribute most indirect contact cases to handling food and water dishes.
Being bitten. This is sometimes known as vector-borne zoonotic disease transmission and involves being bitten by a tick, mosquito or flea that is carrying blood from an infected animal.
Food-based transmission. We hope you aren’t feeling hungry – you might not be after reading this! Studies have shown that as many as 1 in every 6 Americans become infected with a zoonotic disease each year, due to eating foods that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal.
Tips For Preventing Zoonotic Diseases
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to minimize your risk of developing a zoonotic disease. These include:
- Being extremely thorough when washing your hands after coming into contact with any sort of animal, or their environment. This includes emptying foods/water bowls and cleaning cages or bedding.
- Avoiding bites and scratches from animals.
- Making sure that your pet is properly protected against all possible zoonotic diseases. Our veterinary team will be able to tell you which ones we can protect your pet from using preventative care solutions.
- Handle food safely and use proper hand hygiene before and after.
If you have further questions about zoonosis and would like more information, please get in touch with our experienced and knowledgeable veterinary team at Country Doctor Veterinary Clinic in Jefferson, OH, who will be happy to assist in any way that they can 440-709-8100.