Zoonoses


Best friends share everything….but are they sharing more than you think?


What are Zoonoses?


Zoonoses are infectious diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans. There are a number of different zoonotic agents, including parasites, bacteria and fungi. These can cause a range of conditions in animals and will also cause a variety of conditions in humans. There is no correlation between the severity of animal infection and human infection, and the conditions suffered by the human will depend on the parasite, transmission and the person’s age, health and lifestyle. Zoonotic diseases in humans can range from having no symptoms to causing blindness or death.


There are a number of ways in which humans can become infected by a zoonotic disease, from direct ingestion of the parasite, through to contact with a vector or an intermediate host (a temporary host of the parasite mandatory to the lifecycle).


Zoonoses pose a serious human health risk, as well as the initial risk they pose to the animal or pet. It is important to understand about the health risks and the preventative measures which can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting a disease.


Responsible pet ownership can remove public health concerns!


Am I at risk?


Any human can become infected by a zoonotic disease under the right circumstances, however, increased susceptibility will be found in the case of:


  • Immunocompromised individuals such as elderly people, diabetics, people with HIV-infection, patients undergoing immunosuppressive chemotherapy, organ transplantation, or treatment for autoimmune diseases
  • Other susceptible groups such as pregnant women, babies and toddlers and the mentally handicapped
  • People with specific occupational risk such as farmers, kennel workers and hunters, nurses and other animal health professionals


Owner Considerations in Preventing Zoonotic Diseases:

  • Practicing good personal hygiene, particularly washing hands after handling pets, gardening and before eating food
  • Controlling pet parasite infections through repeated treatments and/or regular diagnostic testing
  • Reducing, where possible, the risk of the pet acquiring infection
  • Cleaning up pet faeces regularly to reduce environmental contamination with infective parasite stages - do not dispose of the faeces or cat litter in recyclable waste or compost
  • Minimising exposure, especially of children, to potentially contaminated environments
  • Grooming dogs regularly to minimise the risk of coat contamination