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What is Zoonosis, Its Types, How Does It Spread and Its Prognosis?

What is Zoonosis?(1, 2, 4)

Zoonosis, also known as zoonotic disease, is a form of disease which gets transmitted from an insect or animal to a human being. Some of zoonotic diseases do not cause sickness in animals but they make humans sick. Zoonotic diseases or zoonosis can be minor short-term illness or can be fatal causing death or can be life-changing sickness.

What are the Types of Zoonosis?

The types of zoonotic diseases or zoonosis depend on the pathogen causing it and are:

  • Caused by bacteria.
  • Caused by a virus.
  • Caused by fungus.
  • Caused by parasites.

What Are Some Zoonotic Diseases?(3, 4)

Some of the zoonotic diseases are: anthrax; animal flu; bovine tuberculosis; bird flu; Campylobacter infection; brucellosis; cryptosporidiosis; cat scratch fever; dengue fever; cysticercosis; Ebola; enzootic abortion; encephalitis from ticks; erysipeloid; Giardiasis; fish tank granuloma; Glanders; Hepatitis E; hemorrhagic colitis; hydatid disease; listeria infection; Leptospirosis; Lyme disease; Louping ill; malaria; lymphocytic choriomeningitis; Parrot fever; Orf infection; plague; Pasteurellosis; rabies; Q fever; ringworm; rat-bite fever; Salmonella and E. coli infections; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; swine flu; streptococcal sepsis; toxocariasis; trichinellosis; toxoplasmosis; tularemia; zoonotic diphtheria and West Nile virus.

Zoonotic diseases, which get transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes are serious of the all these diseases.

Who is at Risk for Zoonosis?(5)

Zoonotic diseases or Zoonosis are common, however, there are certain people who are at increased risk of contracting them. Such individuals can also suffer from severe symptoms and acute reactions. People who are at high risk for Zoonosis are:

  • People above the age of 65.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Children who are 5 years old or below.
  • Individuals who are suffering from HIV.
  • Patient with weak immunity, such as those suffering from cancer and getting chemotherapy.

How Does Zoonosis Spread?(5)

Zoonosis or zoonotic diseases can spread in the following manner:

  • By consumption of contaminated animal produce or meat.
  • Zoonosis can get transmitted through the air.
  • Zoonosis can spread by touching a surface, which has been previously touched by an infected animal.
  • Zoonosis can spread through close contact with an infected pet or other animal.
  • Zoonosis can spread via insect bites like ticks or mosquitoes.
  • Many of the zoonosis or zoonotic diseases get transmitted when people are indulging in outdoor activities, such as boating, camping, biking, hiking, mountain climbing, hunting, trekking etc.
  • One of the common places for transmission of zoonosis is petting zoos.
  • People living or working on farms are at high risk for zoonosis as they come in close contact with different livestock, which is a common carrier of various zoonotic diseases.
  • A family pet can be a carrier of many fleas and ticks indoors, which can then pass onto the family members.

What To Do When Suffering From Zoonosis or Zoonotic Disease?

If you or someone you know is suffering from Zoonosis, then it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

If someone has been bitten by a tick, then after removal of the tick, keep it in a safe container. This tick can be sent to lab for examination and identification of the possible zoonosis transmitted to the others.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, then get that animal thoroughly examined by a veterinarian to make sure they are vaccinated and do not suffer from any zoonotic diseases.

How to Prevent Zoonosis?(5)

Zoonosis is commonly found all over the world. The creation of food safety regulations by the US and other countries help in decreasing the chances of getting Zoonosis via consumption of anything in a developed country.

Some ways to prevent a zoonotic disease are:

  • Always make use of insect repellent to keep fleas, mosquitoes and ticks at bay.
  • Always wash your hands regularly.
  • To prevent Zoonosis, it is important to practice safe food handling, such as washing and cleaning any animal produce thoroughly before consuming it.
  • To prevent Zoonosis, get your pets vaccinated along with taking them for regular checkup to the veterinarian.
  • Do everything possible to prevent yourself getting scratched or bitten by any animal.
  • Consult with veterinarian about proper preventative measures regarding tick and flea with regards to your pets.
  • When touching or in close contact with any animal, avoid drinking, eating or touching your face, mouth or eyes.
  • When outdoors, check for ticks.
  • Whenever you feel your pet or any other animal has been sick, wear gloves before touching it.
  • Keep all the places where animals live hygienic and clean.
  • Do not approach or touch any wild animal, especially when it looks sick. Contact the local government or animal control to remove the sick animal.
  • When outdoors, find out the areas where insects or animals might be present in abundance and avoid going to such places when participating in any outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping or hunting.

Prognosis of Zoonosis or Zoonotic Diseases

The prognosis of Zoonosis depends on the type of zoonotic disease you are suffering from. Most of the zoonotic diseases are treatable, whereas some can cause severe chronic conditions or fatal conditions. So, if you suspect that are you are suffering from Zoonosis, then consult your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment always gives a better outcome.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 9, 2022

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