According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases can be spread from animals to humans. They also stated that every 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. Not only are some of them deadly, but many of them often lead to widespread outbreaks like the Bubonic Plague, Influenza, and the current Coronavirus pandemic. The zoonotic diseases, infectious disease transmitted from animal to human, on this list will make you think twice before getting that adorable hamster or cute turtle.
Toxoplasmosis, caused by Toxoplasma gondii – a parasitic protozoan found in warm-blooded animals, particularly cats – affects 2 billion people around the world and although some people rarely experience symptoms, the infection can lead to paralysis, brain damage and vision loss. The organism reproduces inside the cat’s gut and is transmitted to humans who come into contact with contaminated cat feces, or vegetables and undercooked meat. Once it enters the body, the eggs make their way to the brain, skeletal muscle, and heart where they multiply and wreak havoc on one’s immune system. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
Salmonellosis is caused by the bacteria Salmonella which is commonly found in animals like cattle, poultry, reptiles, and amphibians. The infection is often spread through contaminated food as well as touching, so it is important to not only cook food thoroughly, but to wash one’s hands after handling pets. Salmonella may not be fatal, but it is one of the leading causes of diarrhea around the world. Other symptoms include vomiting and abdominal pain and serious symptoms are often seen in children and the elderly.
Rabies is a viral disease best known for being the central theme of Old Yeller and Cujo. The disease can affect worm-blooded animals and is often seen in the saliva and brain cells of skunks, foxes, and racoons. The infection is most commonly spread through cuts and wounds, mostly through bites and although there are vaccines to help prevent rabies, it can be fatal if it is left untreated. The CDC estimates that approximately 59,000 people die from rabies every year and that early symptoms of the infection include fever and headaches. As the disease progresses, rapidly at that, people begin to experience difficulty swallowing, confusion, paralysis, and hydrophobia – the fear of water.
4. Zoonotic Influenza
The most common type of zoonotic influenza is influenza caused by members of the avian family. The disease can be contracted from birds like chicken, ducks and turkeys and can be transmitted directly and indirectly – through eating uncooked meat and coming into contact with dead animals. Swine flu is another common zoonotic influenza. While symptoms vary from virus to virus, most begin with respiratory symptoms like cough and sore throat. Another thing to note is that most aggressive symptoms and high mortality rate are associated with avian influenza.
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a serious and often fatal illness seen in humans and other primates. Formerly called Ebola hemorrhagic fever due to the severe internal bleeding, EDV is transmitted by direct contact with bodily fluids, tissue and blood of infected animals and people. Symptoms often come on suddenly and include headache, fever, muscle pain and fatigue. It often leads to rashes, vomiting and can progress to internal bleeding and impaired liver and kidney function. Between 2013 and 2016, approximately 11,000 people died from the virus.
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