World Zoonoses Day
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Jul 6, 2019
When Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against Rabies virus on July 6, 1885, this day was embarked on as the World Zoonoses Day. To know the importance of world zoonoses day, let’s first understand what zoonoses or zoonotic diseases are.
Zoonoses or zoonosis are infections that spread from animals to humans. They are also known as zoonotic diseases. This animal to human transfer is facilitated by the ability of animal to carry harmful germs, such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. These germ causing agents are then transferred to humans and can cause illness. Zoonotic diseases should not be taken lightly, it ranges from mild to severe, and some can even be fatal if not treated on time.
Usually, humans are the “dead-end” hosts, which mean that there is no human-to-human transmission. But this is debatable since zoonotic diseases are widespread worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also estimated that about 61 per cent of all human diseases are zoonotic in nature.
The zoonotic definition is simple; it is a group of disease that spreads from animal to human. The characteristic trait exhibited by this group of infection is that it cannot be completely eradicated from the Earth, e.g. smallpox, measles, polio. Hence, it is considered as a permanent and recurrent factor to be dealt with in protecting human health.
What is the Mode of Transmission?
The deep love and connection between people and animal has increased the contraction of the condition. That is why it is essential to be aware of the common ways people can contract zoonotic diseases or get infected with germs that can cause these conditions.
These can include:
An individual can contract the disease when he/she comes in direct contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucous, faeces, or other body fluids of the infected animal, example, touching the infected animals, and animal bites or scratches.
An individual can contract the disease when he/she comes in contact with the areas which is/has been infected by the animal with germs. It can be a place where the animal has lived and roamed or even objects or surfaces that have been exposed to the infected species.
Common areas where this occurs include:
- Aquarium Tanks
- Chicken coops
- Pet baskets
- Pet Cages
- Pet food
- Pet water dishes
- Plants and soil infected by animals
Here, the disease vector is involved in transmitting the germ from animals to humans. A disease vector is an agent who carries and transmits an infectious pathogen or germs into another living organism. Some of the examples are; a tick bite, or a mosquito or flea bites/bite.
Consuming food and fluids like unpasteurized milk, raw meat or eggs or raw vegetables that are contaminated with the feces of an infected animal can also infect an individual.
What are the Types of Zoonotic illnesses?
Some of the most common zoonotic illnesses include:
Rabies is the most common one. It is a viral infection that is transmitted to a healthy system (human) when an infected animal bites a person or other animal. It is a disease that affects the nervous system of all mammals.
Rabies is a fatal condition. But fortunately, some vaccines exist for its prevention.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is caused by tick bites. The symptoms of this zoonotic disease can range from mild to severe, but can be treated with antibiotics.
Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya
We are very familiar with these terms. They are all mosquito-borne diseases. It is essential to treat these conditions on time, as they can be fatal.
The symptoms of these conditions are:
Salmonella infection (salmonellosis)
Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract of an individual. It is caused by handling infected reptiles or amphibians, or by handling baby chicks or ducks. People generally recover from salmonellosis without any medical treatment, although conservative measures are recommended.
The symptoms usually last for about 4 and 7 days, and they are:
- Abdominal cramps
E. coli infection
E. coli or Escherichia coli are Gram-negative, anaerobic, rod-shaped, coliform bacteria commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms.
E. coli infection is caused by touching infected animals or handling contaminated food. It is essential that infected people rest well and drink plenty of fluids.
The symptoms of E.coli infection are:
- Food poisoning
- Abdominal cramps
Psittacosis is a bacterial disease that affects birds. It is also known as ornithosis or parrot fever. Humans can contract this disease from feathers, secretions, and droppings.
Symptoms of psittacosis include:
- Dry cough
There are, in fact, hundreds of zoonotic diseases. Some of the well-known types include:
- Zika fever
- Swine influenza
- Cat scratch fever
- West Nile virus
- Bovine tuberculosis
- Avian influenza or bird flu
Who is at a higher risk of contracting zoonotic diseases?
Well, anyone and everyone can be a victim of contracting a zoonotic disease. Even a healthy individual can fall tremendously ill from the zoonotic disease. Nonetheless, some people have a higher risk than others and steps should take to protect themselves or their family members since these people are more likely to get sick, or even die, from the infection with certain diseases.
The groups of people are:
- Children who are younger than 5
- Adults who are older than 65
- Anyone with a weak immune system
Why is World Zoonoses Day celebrated?
As said before, on July 6, 1885, Louis Pasteur, a French biologist, successfully administered vaccination against zoonotic disease rabies. From this day, onwards World Zoonoses Day is celebrated every year on this day as an anniversary to commemorate his scientific achievement and raise awareness of the risk of zoonotic diseases. In simple, it is a theme day which raises awareness for the risk of zoonotic diseases.
How to avoid Zoonotic Diseases?
You cannot avoid complete contact with animals, especially if you work on a farm, or have pets at home. Therefore, home or away from home, you are bound to come in some contact (direct or indirect) with animals in places like petting zoos, farms, play grounds, stores, and parks.
Also, mosquitoes and fleas, and ticks are abundantly biting people and animals day and night, which make the spread of zoonotic diseases very common. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from zoonotic diseases. Here are a few of them:
Keeps your hands and feet clean
Your limbs are in direct contact with the external environment. This makes contracting zoonotic diseases from infected animals easy. Therefore, if you have touched any animals (infected or not) then washing your hands right after touching or being around them. This is an important step that you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.
Also, many germs can spread via direct contact if an individual has not washed his/her hands with soap and clean, running water. In case if clean running water is not available, we suggest you use soap and available water.
If soap and water are not accessible, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean hands. Hand sanitizer contains about 60% of alcohol in the solution. Alcohol is a known disinfectant and is very effective in killing harmful germs. But remember hand sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs that are why it is vital to wash your hands as soon as soap and water are available.
Avoid bites and scratches from animals
Animal (infected) bites and scratched can infect an individual with zoonotic diseases.
Stay away from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas bites
For this, you can sterilize or fumigate your house once in a while to keep these vector agents at bay.
Learn more about ways to handle food safely
To keep yourself or your family, your pet, or other animals safe from the disease, keep your food clean and safe. Also, take heed on where you buy your food stock from.
Follow these small necessary steps to stay safe and away from zoonotic diseases both at home and away from home! Happy Zoonoses Day to you!