Zoonoses

Specialty of Internal medicine

What are zoonoses?

Zoonoses refer to diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, and vice versa.

Direct zoonoses can occur through diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, either through the air, or through saliva (bites), or stings. Humans can also infect animals, in a process called reverse zoonosis.

Depending on the disease that is transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals, it is classified into one of different groups:

  1. Viral zoonoses such as yellow fever, bird flu, rabies, Ebola, or Zika.
  2. Bacterial zoonoses such as salmonellosis, tuberculosis, or bubonic plague.
  3. Fungal zoonoses such as ringworm, cryptococcosis, or histoplasmosis.
  4. Parasitic zoonoses such as leishmaniasis, scabies, or toxocariasis

What are the symptoms of zoonoses?

The symptoms of the particular type of zoonosis will depend entirely on the disease in question – there is a wide variety of zoonotic diseases.

What causes zoonoses?

Zoonotic diseases occur through transmission of pathogens among animal species. These diseases can be contagious, meaning direct contact with animals can pass them on, or they can be contracted by consuming undercooked meats or foods that have not met hygiene and safety requirements.

Can zoonoses be prevented?

Preventing the transmission of diseases from animals to humans is possible by avoiding contact with animals infected by them, in addition to maintaining sanitary measures in food. Certain vaccines are also available to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases and to prevent them developing in individuals. However, they are not available for each and every type of zoonotic disease. The UK currently offers vaccination against tuberculosis, but this is not a mandatory vaccine. While the rabies vaccine is not routinely offered in the UK, it may be administered if you are travelling to a country where rabies is present. Consult your doctor before travelling to see which vaccines you will need.

What is the treatment of zoonoses?

Again, treatment will vary depending on the specific disease that has been transmitted. It is impossible to specify a certain treatment due to the great variety of zoonotic diseases and the enormous difference between them.

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