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What is Zoonosis or a Zoonotic Disease?
Definition - A zoonosis is a disease that starts in a non-human animal and then spreads to people.
How is a Zoonotic Disease Transmitted?
Animals can carry dangerous pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. These are then passed on to humans and make them sick. The severity of zoonotic diseases may be from mild to severe, and some can even kill. They can spread from animals to people through direct contact, food, water, or the environment. Due to our close relationship with animals in farming, as pets, and in the wild, they are a significant problem for public health worldwide. Zoonoses can also make it hard to make and trade animal products used for food and other things.
Zoonoses are the cause of many new infectious diseases and many of the ones that already exist. Some diseases, like HIV, start in animals and then change into strains that only affect people. Like the Ebola virus and salmonellosis, other zoonoses can cause diseases to keep coming back. Additional diseases might lead to worldwide pandemics, such as COVID-19, a novel coronavirus.
Examples of Zoonotic Diseases Linked to Animal Contact
Rabies:Rabies is an infection that causes nerve damage in mammals. An infected animal's bite can pass the virus on to another animal or human. Rabies is a fatal disease that can't be treated once symptoms occur. Vaccinations work well in preventing rabies.
Dengue, malaria, and chikungunya:Mosquitoes spread these diseases, which happen more often in some places, such as the Caribbean. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and fever. It is important to treat these characteristics as quickly as possible because they can be potentially lethal.
Salmonella:Handling reptiles or amphibians infected with Salmonella, or newborn chicks or ducks, is a common source of Salmonella infection. In many cases, the disease lasts four to seven days, and the most common symptoms are diarrhea, fever, and spasms in the abdomen. In most cases, people may heal independently, while precautionary precautions are always suggested.
COVID-19 Infection:A group of viruses called coronaviruses can make both animals and humans sick. Some of these are responsible for the common cold. Others, like bats, camels, and cattle, infect animals. The coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS come from bats. People also concluded that SARS-CoV-2 spread from animals to humans at one of Wuhan, China's "wet markets." When individuals with COVID-19 exhale or cough, they emit minute droplets containing the virus. Among the most common manifestations of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, coughs, sore throats, headaches, muscle aches, chills, and inability to smell or taste. These symptoms will likely show up 2–14 days after being exposed to the virus.
Other Types of Zoonosis:
Hundreds of diseases can be spread from animals to humans, but many are rare. Other well-known types are:
- Cat scratch fever
- Swine flu
- Zika infection
- Hansen's disease
Who is Vulnerable?
Zoonotic infections can transfer to humans through animal interactions. Due to the high number of novel or unreported viruses in some wild animal populations, markets selling their meat or by-products are at high risk.
Agricultural workers in regions with heavy antibiotic use for farm animals may be at risk of drug-resistant infections.
People living near wilderness regions or in semi-urban settings with more wild animals are at increased risk of illness from rats, foxes, or raccoons.
Prevention & Control
Different pathogens have different ways to stop zoonotic diseases from spreading. Still, a few things are known to work to minimize the risk in the community and for individuals. These things are:
- Keeping your hands clean: Even if you don't touch an animal, washing your hands with soap and running water after being near one can stop germs from spreading.
- Handling food safely: A person can avoid diseases such as Salmonella by ensuring food is properly cooked, and food preparation areas are clean.
- Avoid mosquito bites: Avoid bites from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, use bug spray, wear long pants and sleeves, and stay away from wooded areas to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease.