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5 Common Diseases That Humans Can Get From Animals

Diseases which are passed from animals to human are known as zoonotic diseases. These diseases might have a very little impact on the animals but can lead from mild to a fatal effect on humans.

It is actually hard to stay away from a pet if having one. Similarly if not having one you actually come across one almost every day. So, love them or hate them, you cannot just get rid of them being around you.

Pets carry some diseases which affect us in a serious way. Below are listed few infections that human can get from animals.

Many common foods such as eggs, seafood, meat, and dairy products get contaminated with zoonotic pathogens.

5 Common Diseases That Humans Can Get From Animals

5 Common Diseases That Humans Can Get From Animals

Cat Scratch

This is the most common zoonotic infection or disease that humans can get from animals. Humans get it when a cat scratches or bites them, and can even be transferred if the cat licks an open wound on the human body.

Cat scratch is caused by a bacterium known as Bartonella henselae, which is present in the saliva of the cats. The disease is seen occurring most commonly in children, though adults can present with it as well. Studies conducted on patient confirmed the diagnosis of the disease in patient most of which were women with a mean age of 10 years.(1, 2)

The symptoms presented by the patient suffering from cat scratch disease are,

A cat scratch disease leads to benign lymphadenitis which may progress to severe or recurrent forms.


Rabies is another most common zoonotic disease that humans can get from animals and is responsible for a large number of deaths annually. It is transferred through the bite of an infected animal.

It can happen from the bite of wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and fox and also from dogs, cats and farm animals.

The symptoms present in this illness are:

It is important to get medical care as soon as the animal bites.


Plague is a serious infection of human, caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia pestis. It is transferred through rodents and fleas.

People get infected by the bite of an infected flea or through a cut or a wound when handling infected animals (bubonic plague). It is also contacted through respiratory droplets from an infected person or animal (pneumonic plague).4

The symptoms of Plague include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • weakness
  • bloody or watery cough
  • pneumonia

The symptoms become worse, and if the symptoms are not treated at the earliest, can also prove to be fatal.

Q Fever

A bacterium, known as Coxiella burnetii primarily affects the cattle, sheep, and goats. It is shed in the birth products, feces, and milk of the infected animals and can get transferred to the human by direct contact or by inhaling contaminated barn dust, or by consuming the milk of an infected animal.

The disease can range from no symptoms to severe illness.

Some people might remain asymptomatic or have mild disease with spontaneous recovery. While in few, especially with meningoencephalitis, endocarditis, or myocarditis, it may lead to serious complications and even death.5

The symptoms of the illness are:


Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by coming in contact with the foods or drinks contaminated with salmonella bacterium.

The animals which carry the bacterium are poultry, reptiles, rodents, and even fishes.

The disease can turn out to be very serious mostly in the case of young children, elderly and those with a weak immune system.

The symptoms seen in the person infected with salmonella are:

How to Prevent Zoonotic Infections?

Few ways in which the risk of disease spreads from the animal can be reduced are:

  • Washing hands after handling pets, gardening, and before eating is must, to reduce the risk of getting an infection with any type bacteria or parasite.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals, as even those as cute as baby bunnies might carry several contagious organisms.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat. Cooking can help prevent various parasitic infections present in meat.
  • Using flea and ticks preventive can reduce the number of infectious diseases from entering the house, as they are the major carriers of many illnesses.
  • Routine veterinary care such as stool test, blood test, and vaccinations for the pets are a must. It is not only for pet health but your health too.
  • Those with a compromised immune system are at high risk of obtaining zoonotic disease. They should actually avoid visiting farms, the zoo, or even petting.

If you are an animal lover following the preventive tips are must for you, and if you are not, there is no harm in taking precautions.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 6, 2020

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