A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. These diseases are very common. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals.
Many people interact with animals in their daily lives. We raise animals for food and keep them in our homes as pets. We might come into close contact with animals at a county fair or petting zoo or encounter wildlife when we clear wooded land for new construction.
Because of these interactions, it’s important to be aware of the different ways people can get zoonotic diseases. These can include:
- Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, or feces of an infected animal
- Being bitten by a tick or mosquito (often called a “vector”)
- Eating or drinking something unsafe (such as unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, or unwashed fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with feces from an infected animal)
Luckily, there are many ways you can protect yourself and your family from zoonotic diseases. You can:
- Always wash hands and follow proper hygiene
- Handle food safely
- Prevent bites from mosquitoes and ticks
- Know the simple things you can do to stay safe around your pets
- Be aware of zoonotic diseases both at home and when you travel
You can learn more about zoonotic diseases by visiting CDC 24/7.
Presentations with additional information for veterinarians and physicians are available in the Resources section. These presentations have been developed to assist in discussions about zoonotic diseases and One Health.
- Page last reviewed: October 18, 2013
- Page last updated: October 18, 2013
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