Zoonotic diseases (also called zoonoses) are infectious diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. These diseases may or may not produce clinical illness in the animal.
Zoonotic diseases include:
- Those that can be transmitted directly from animals to humans (e.g., rabies)
- Diseases that can be acquired indirectly by humans through ingestion, inhalation or contact with infected animal products, soil, water or other environmental surfaces that have been contaminated with animal waste or a dead animal (e.g., anthrax, leptospirosis)
- Vectorborne diseases that require a mosquito, tick or other arthropod to transmit disease from animals to humans (e.g., Rocky Mountain spotted fever, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile virus)
Animals that can carry and spread diseases to people:
|Rabbits, rodents and pocket pets|
|Reptiles and amphibians|
Arthropods that can carry and spread diseases to people:
Diseases affecting animals and humans:
People at higher risk:
Some people are more likely to get disease from animals or develop more severe disease due to having a weaker or immature immune system. People at high risk include:
- Organ transplant recipients
- People being treated with drugs that compromise the immune system such as therapies for cancer or immune-mediated diseases (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
- People with HIV/AIDS
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women
- Children under 5 years of age
Pregnant women should take special precautions to avoid infection with toxoplasmosis and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV).
- Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted through contact with cat feces or environments that have been contaminated with cat feces (i.e., gardens).
- LCMV can be carried by apparently healthy mice and hamsters, and pregnant women should avoid contact with them and their environment.
Additional information on people at higher risk for zoonotic diseases can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s website.
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Produced by Public Health Seattle & King County.