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Zoonoses (//, plural -//, also spelled zoönoses; singular zoonosis (or zoönosis); from Greek: ζῷον zoon "animal" and νόσος nosos "sickness") are infectious diseases of animals (usually vertebrates) that can naturally be transmitted to humans.
Major modern diseases such as Ebola virus disease, salmonellosis and influenza are zoonoses. Zoonoses can be caused by a range of disease pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites; of 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans, 61% were zoonotic. Most human diseases originated in animals; however, only diseases that routinely involve animal to human transmission, like rabies, are considered direct zoonosis.
Zoonoses have different modes of transmission. In direct zoonosis the disease is directly transmitted from animals to humans through media such as air (influenza) or through bites and saliva (rabies). In contrast, transmission can also occur via an intermediate species (referred to as a vector), which carry the disease pathogen without getting infected. When humans infect animals, it is called reverse zoonosis or anthroponosis.
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During most of human prehistory groups of hunter-gatherers were probably very small. Such groups probably made contact with other such bands only rarely. Such isolation would have caused epidemic diseases to be restricted to any given local population, because propagation and expansion of epidemics depend on frequent contact with other individuals who have not yet developed an adequate immune response. To persist in such a population, a pathogen either had to be a chronic infection, staying present and potentially infectious in the infected host for long periods, or it had to have other additional species as reservoir where it can maintain itself until further susceptible hosts are contacted and infected. In fact, for many 'human' diseases, the human is actually better viewed as an accidental or incidental victim and a dead-end host. Examples include rabies, anthrax, tularemia and West Nile virus. Thus, much of human exposure to infectious disease has been zoonotic.
Many modern diseases, even epidemic diseases, started out as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to establish with certainty which diseases jumped from other animals to humans, but there is increasing evidence from DNA and RNA sequencing, that measles, smallpox, influenza, HIV, and diphtheria came to us this way. Various forms of the common cold and tuberculosis also are adaptations of strains originating in other species.
Zoonoses are of interest because they are often previously unrecognized diseases or have increased virulence in populations lacking immunity. The West Nile virus appeared in the United States in 1999 in the New York City area, and moved through the country in the summer of 2002, causing much distress. Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease, as are salmonellosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease.
A major factor contributing to the appearance of new zoonotic pathogens in human populations is increased contact between humans and wildlife. This can be caused either by encroachment of human activity into wilderness areas or by movement of wild animals into areas of human activity. An example of this is the outbreak of Nipah virus in peninsular Malaysia in 1999, when intensive pig farming began on the habitat of infected fruit bats. Unidentified infection of the pigs amplified the force of infection, eventually transmitting the virus to farmers and causing 105 human deaths.
Similarly, in recent times avian influenza and West Nile virus have spilled over into human populations probably due to interactions between the carrier host and domestic animals. Highly mobile animals such as bats and birds may present a greater risk of zoonotic transmission than other animals due to the ease with which they can move into areas of human habitation.
Because they depend on the human host for part of their life-cycle, diseases such as African schistosomiasis, river blindness, and elephantiasis are not defined as zoonotic, even though they may depend on transmission by insects or other vectors.
In 2006, a conference held in Berlin was focusing on the issue of zoonotic pathogen effects on food safety, urging governments to intervene, and the public to be vigilant towards the risks of catching food-borne diseases from farm-to-dining table.
Many food outbreaks can be linked to zoonotic pathogens. Many different types of food can be contaminated that have an animal origin. Some common foods linked to zoonotic contaminations include eggs, seafood, meat, dairy, and even some vegetables. Food outbreaks should be handled in preparedness plans to prevent widespread outbreaks and to efficiently and effectively contain outbreaks.
Lists of diseases
See a list of diseases categorized as zoonoses here: Category:Zoonoses
|Disease||Pathogen(s)||Animals involved||Mode of transmission|
|African sleeping sickness||Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense||range of wild animals and domestic livestock||transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly|
|Anthrax||Bacillus anthracis||commonly – grazing herbivores such as cattle, sheep, goats, camels, horses, and pigs||by ingestion, inhalation or skin contact of spores|
|Brucellosis||Brucella spp.||cattle, goats||infected milk or meat|
|Cat-scratch disease||Bartonella henselae, Bartonella quintana||cats||bites or scratches from infected cats|
|Chagas disease||Trypanosoma cruzi||armadillos, Triatominae (kissing bug)||bite|
|Variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease||PrPvCJD||cattle||eating meat from animals with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)|
|Cryptococcosis||Cryptococcus neoformans||commonly – birds like pigeons||inhaling fungi|
|Cysticercosis & Taeniasis||Taenia solium, Taenia saginata||commonly – pigs and cattle||consuming water or food contaminated with the tapeworm eggs (cysticercosis) or raw or undercooked pork contaminated with the cysticerci (taeniasis)|
|Ebola virus disease (a haemorrhagic fever)||Ebolavirus spp.||chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines||through body fluids, organs|
|Other haemorrhagic fevers (Marburg viral haemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Rift Valley fever)||Varies – commonly viruses||varies (sometimes unknown) – commonly camels, hares, hedgehogs, cattle, sheep, goats, horses and swine||infection usually occurs through direct contact with infected animals|
|Echinococcosis||Echinococcus spp.||commonly – dogs, foxes, wolves, sheep, and rodents||eating organs contaminated with cysts of the tapeworm|
|Foodborne illnesses (commonly diarrheal diseases)||Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Shigella spp. and Trichinella spp.||animals domesticated for food production (cattle, poultry)||raw and/or undercooked food made from animals|
|Histoplasmosis||Histoplasma capsulatum||birds, bats||inhaling fungi|
|Influenza||Influenza A virus||horses, pigs, domestic and wild birds, wild aquatic mammals such as seals and whales, minks and farmed carnivores||droplets transmitted through air|
|Leprosy||Mycobacterium leprae||mainly armadillos but mangabey monkeys, rabbits and mice too||any contact with armadillos including urine, faeces and pus from infected animals, the soil infected by armadillo can make you sick too and of course eating infected meat|
|Leptospirosis||Leptospira interrogans||rats, mice, dogs||direct or indirect contact with urine of infected animals|
|Rabies||Rabies virus||commonly – dogs, bats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves, coyotes, mongooses and cats||through saliva by biting, or through scratches from an infected animal|
|Toxocariasis||Toxocara canis and Toxocara cati||dogs, cats||exposure to feces|
|Toxoplasmosis||Toxoplasma gondii||cats, livestock, poultry||exposure to cat feces, and undercooked meat|
|Trichinosis||Trichinella spiralis, Trichinella britovi||rodents, pigs, horses, bears, walruses||eating infected meat|
|Tuberculosis||Mycobacterium bovis||infected cattle, deer, llamas, pigs, domestic cats, wild carnivores (foxes, coyotes) and omnivores (possums, mustelids and rodents)||milk, exhaled air, sputum, urine, faeces and pus from infected animals|
|Tularemia||Francisella tularensis||lagomorphs (type A) and rodents (type B)||ticks, deer flies, and other insects|
Partial list of outbreaks of associated with fairs and petting zoos
Outbreaks of zoonoses have been traced to human interaction with and exposure to animals at fairs, petting zoos, and other settings. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated list of recommendations for preventing zoonosis transmission in public settings. The recommendations, developed in conjunction with the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, include educational responsibilities of venue operators, limiting public and animal contact, and animal care and management.
In 1988, a person became ill with swine influenza virus (swine flu) and died after visiting the display area of the pig barn at a Wisconsin county fair. Three healthcare personnel treating the case patient also developed flu-like illness with laboratory evidence of swine influenza virus infection. Investigators from the CDC indicated in their final report that the swine flu had been transmitted directly from pig to human host.
In 1994, seven cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection were traced to a farm in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. An epidemiological investigation into the outbreak revealed that the strain of E. coli O157:H7 isolated from nine animals on the farm was indistinguishable from the strain isolated from human samples. Investigators concluded that the most likely cause of this outbreak was direct human contact with animals.
In 1995, 43 children who had visited a rural farm in Wales became ill with cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidium was isolated from seven of the ill children. An epidemiological investigation indicated that the source of the children's illness was contact with calves at the farm.
Also in 1995, at least 13 children became ill with Cryptosporidiosis after visiting a farm in Dublin, Ireland. In a case-control study, researchers compared the activities of the 13 ill children, or cases, to the activities of 52 out of 55 people who had visited the farm – the controls. The study revealed that illness was significantly associated with playing in the sand in a picnic area beside a stream where animals had access.
In 1997, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was identified among one child who lived on an open farm and two children who visited the farm during school parties. Two of the three children developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Isolates collected from the three children and from samples taken at the farm were indistinguishable, demonstrating evidence of the link between the farm and the children's illness.
In 1999, what is believed to be the largest outbreak of waterborne E. coli O157:H7 illness in United States history occurred at the Washington County, New York fair. The New York State Department of Health identified 781 individuals who were suspected of being infected with either E. coli O157:H7 or Campylobacter jejuni. An investigation into the outbreak revealed that consumption of beverages purchased from vendors supplied with water drawn from an unchlorinated fairgrounds well was associated with illness. In all, 127 outbreak victims were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections; 71 were hospitalized, 14 developed HUS, and two died.
In 2000, 51 people became ill with confirmed or suspected E. coli O157:H7 infections after visiting a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. Eight children developed HUS. A case-control study among visitors to the dairy was conducted jointly by the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Montgomery County Health Department. The study's authors concluded that E. coli was transmitted to visitors as a result of contamination on animal hides and in the environment.
Also in 2000, 43 visitors to the Medina County fair in Ohio were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections. An investigation into the outbreak suggested that the water system from which food vendors were supplied was the source of the E. coli outbreak. Several months later, five children became ill with E. coli infections after attending a "Carnival of Horrors" event held at the Medina County fairgrounds. PFGE analysis of the strains of E. coli isolated from members of both outbreaks revealed an indistinguishable pattern, and investigators from the Medina County Health Department and the CDC determined that the Medina County Fairgrounds water distribution system was the source of both E. coli outbreaks.
In 2001, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to exposure in the Cow Palace at the Lorain County Fair in Ohio. CDC investigators identified 23 cases of E. coli infection associated with attendance at the Lorain County Fair, with additional secondary cases likely. Two people developed HUS. An investigation revealed E. coli contamination on doorways, rails, bleachers, and sawdust. Investigators concluded that the Lorain County Fair was the source of the outbreak.
Wyandot County, Ohio, also reported an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2001. Ninety-two E. coli infections were reported to the Wyandot County Health Department and the CDC, with 27 cases confirmed using laboratory analysis. Two cases developed HUS. Contact with infected cattle was believed to be the source of the outbreak; however, a specific cause was never identified.
In 2002, 75,000 people became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after visiting a large agricultural fair in Ontario, Canada. Outbreak investigators conducted a case-control study, which indicated that goats and sheep from a petting zoo were the source of the E. coli among fair visitors. Other indications were that the fencing and environment surrounding the petting zoo could have been a source of transmission.
What is believed to be the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Oregon history occurred among attendees at the Lane County fair in 2002. An Oregon Department of Human Services – Health Services investigation led to the belief that the E. coli outbreak originated from exposure in the sheep and goat barn. In all, 79 people were confirmed ill with E. coli infections as part of the outbreak; 22 were hospitalized, and 12 suffered HUS.
In 2003, fair visitors and animal exhibitors at the Fort Bend County Fair in Texas became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections. An outbreak investigation led to the determination that 25 people had become ill with E. coli infections after attending the Fort Bend County Fair; seven people were laboratory-confirmed with E. coli, and 5 developed HUS or TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura). Investigators isolated a strain of E. coli indistinguishable from the outbreak strain from four animal husbandry sites, and found high levels of E. coli contamination in both rodeo and animal exhibit areas.
In 2004, a large E. coli O157:H7 outbreak occurred among visitors at the 2004 North Carolina State Fair. During its investigation into the outbreak, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) received over 180 reports of illness, and documented 33 culture-confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 associated with attendance at the fair, with 15 children developing HUS. In its final investigation report, NCDHHS concluded that the North Carolina State Fair E. coli outbreak had originated at a petting zoo exhibit. The conclusion was supported by a case-control study, environmental sampling, and laboratory analysis of samples collected from the fair and members of the outbreak.
In 2005, a petting zoo that exhibited at two Florida fairs and a festival was traced as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Sixty-three people who had visited either the Florida State Fair, the Central Florida Fair, or the Florida Strawberry Festival reported illness to investigators for the Florida Department of Health, including 20 who were culture-confirmed and 7 with HUS. A case-control study revealed that illness was associated with exposure to a petting zoo exhibit present at all three events.
- Conservation medicine
- Cross-species transmission
- Emerging infectious disease
- Foodborne illness
- Wildlife disease
- Veterinary medicine
- Zoophilia and health#Zoonoses acquired via sexual contact
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- David Quammen (2013). Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. ISBN 978-0-393-34661-9.
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