Zoonotic infections

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Overview

Most humans are in contact with animals in a way or another. A zoonotic disease is a disease or infection that can be transmitted naturally from vertebrate animals to humans or from humans to vertebrate animals. More than 60% of human pathogens are zoonotic in origin. This includes a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, parasites, and other pathogens. Factors such as climate change, urbanization, animal migration and trade, travel and tourism, vector biology, anthropogenic factors, and natural factors have greatly influenced the emergence, re-emergence, distribution, and patterns of zoonoses. As time goes on, there are more emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. In this review, we reviewed the etiology of major zoonotic diseases, their impact on human health, and control measures for better management. We also highlighted COVID-19, a newly emerging zoonotic disease of likely bat origin that has affected millions of humans along with devastating global consequences. The implementation of One Health measures is highly recommended for the effective prevention and control of possible zoonosis.

Symptoms

GI symptoms. Diarrhea (can be severe) Abdominal cramps. Poor appetite. Nausea. Vomiting. Pain.

Flu-like symptoms. Fever. Body aches. Headache. Fatigue. Swollen lymph nodes.

Skin lesions, scratches or bite marks.

Causes

Zoonotic diseases are caused by harmful germs like viruses, bacterial, parasites, and fungi. These germs can cause many different types of illnesses in people and animals, ranging from mild to serious illness and even death.

Risk factors

Handling a pet or animal when you have a lowered immune system. Children younger than 5 years of age have a higher risk of getting zoonotic infections. They often put their hands and other items in their mouths and do not always wash their hands well or often.

Where you live (city or country or farms).

Exposure to animals at petting zoos or public sand boxes.

Exposure to wild animals or game.

Improper care of pets or their environment. Do not handle a litter box, a pet that has an infection, or bedding that is soiled with urine, vomit, or feces.

Contact with young animals (puppies, kittens) means a higher risk of infection.

Any contact with a non-traditional pet. Traditional pets include dogs and cats; all other animals are called non-traditional. They are a higher risk for infection. These include wild animals, exotic animals such as monkeys, ferrets, rats or mice, reptiles (snakes, lizards, turtles), and birds (including chicks and ducklings).

Any contact with farm animals and their environment (such as hay and barns).

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Complications

GI symptoms. Diarrhea (can be severe) Abdominal cramps. Poor appetite. Nausea. Vomiting. Pain.

Flu-like symptoms. Fever. Body aches. Headache. Fatigue. Swollen lymph nodes.

Skin lesions, scratches or bite marks.

Prevention

Zoonotic diseases are common everywhere in the world. However, the United States and other countries work constantly to reduce the number of illnesses caused by animals and insects. One way they do this is through creating food safety regulations. These regulations reduce the chances of getting a zoonotic disease from something you eat in a developed country.

There are also ways to help prevent getting a zoonotic disease. These include the following:

Wash your hands diligently.

Use insect repellent or other methods to keep mosquitos, fleas, and ticks away.

Practice safe food handling. This includes washing off all produce before eating it.

Avoid being bitten or scratched by an animal.

Have your pets vaccinated and take them for regular annual visits to the veterinarian.

Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate flea and tick preventatives for your pets.

Check for ticks when you’ve been outside.

Don’t eat, drink, or touch your eyes or mouth while you’re handling or in close contact with animals.

Use gloves if you need to handle an animal that is or appears to be sick.

Keep any areas where animals are kept clean and sanitary.

Be aware of areas where animals or insects might be when you’re out in nature, especially when you participate in activities like hunting and camping.

Don’t handle or approach any animal in the wild that appears sick. Be sure to contact animal control or the local government to have the sick animal removed.

List of Diseases - Z