By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: June 30, 2023

What Does Zoonosis Mean?

Zoonosis refers to any disease that is transmissible from animals to human beings. These diseases can be transmitted by air, close contact with an infected animal, mosquito and tick bites, or by consuming contaminated meat. The effects range in severity, from short-term illnesses to fatal diseases.

Zoonosis is also known as a zoonotic disease.

Safeopedia Explains Zoonosis

Even healthy animals can transmit infection from bites, scratches, saliva, urine, and feces. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of being infected by a zoonotic disease include:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Being younger than 5 or older than 65 years of age
  • Pregnancy
  • Improper care of pets and their environment
  • Contact with young animals, wild animals, and farm animals
  • Contact with nontraditional pets like monkeys, ferrets, mice, and reptiles

Transmission of Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases can occur in different settings, such as during outdoor activities, in petting zoos, interaction with livestock, and through pets. Some of the methods of transmission include:

  • Direct contact: bites, scratches, and contact with an animal's saliva, blood, urine, mucous, or feces
  • Indirect contact: coming in contact with objects or surfaces contaminated with germs from an animal (e.g. aquarium water, pet cages, chicken coops, food bowl)
  • Vector-borne: tick, flea, or mosquito bites
  • Foodborne: consuming food contaminated with an infected animal's fecal matter, raw or unpasteurized meat, or undercooked meat or eggs
  • Waterborne: consuming water contaminated by body fluids from an infected animal

Types of Zoonotic Diseases

Animals carry harmful germs such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 61% of all human diseases are zoonotic in origin, and 75% of new diseases discovered in the last decade are zoonotic. These zoonotic diseases include:

  • Rabies
  • Lyme disease
  • Malaria
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Psittacosis
  • Anthrax
  • Bird flu
  • Swine flu
  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Ebola
  • Zika fever

Tips to Prevent Zoonosis

Taking the following steps can help prevent acquiring or spreading zoonotic diseases:

  • Wash hands regularly
  • Use insect repellents to keep mosquitoes and other harmful insects away
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming
  • Avoid bites and scratches from animals, including pets
  • Keep pets and their environment clean and hygienic
  • Do not eat, drink, or touch your eyes or mouth while handling animals
  • Do not handle sick animals in the wild unless trained to do so
  • Ensure that your pet's vaccinations are up to date
  • Use gloves to handle sick pets and to clean their areas and objects


Zoonotic Disease

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