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Lab test
Zoonotic diseases
Lab test

Diseases affect all living beings on earth, plant and animal alike, including humans.  Zoonotic diseases, or zoonosis, are diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans. Pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites and prions can lead to illness and even death in both animals and humans. With over 200 types of zoonoses, estimates suggest that 60% of known human diseases are of animal origin and could be responsible for up to 70% of novel infectious diseases.  

Zoonosis infographic

Zoonoses are a serious situation, resulting in over 2.4 million illnesses and 2.7 million deaths per year, worldwide.  Continued human encroachment and extreme weather conditions due to climate change will further reduce suitable habitats for wildlife, which will only lead to increased contact with animals and the possible diseases they carry.  Zoonotic diseases can be spread from domestic and wild animals to humans (and back to animals, etc.) through direct and indirect contact (I.e.: contact with, ingestion or inhalation of bodily excretions or soiled surfaces and materials, scratches and bites), through infected insect bites and

through contaminated soils, food and water sources.  They are spread within and between species.

To keep yourself safe when near areas where in contact with wildlife, always follow proper hygiene protocols such as frequent hand washing and food handling practices and by using appropriate protective gear such as gloves, glasses and masks when handling animals, particularly wildlife.  If the animal is behaving in a strange manner, it is advised to avoid the animal and contact local animal services immediately.  Always put your safety above everything else and be extremely cautious in any contact you may have.  If you suspect you have come in contact with a sick animal, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

​Public awareness and risk management practices are the best tools to reduce zoonotic disease prevalence.  Understanding what threats exists and how to mitigate them, empower humans with the required knowledge to enjoy nature and wildlife safely.  For a full list of the major documented zoonotic diseases, check out the Major Zoonotic Disease List published by the National Institutes for Health.  The below subset of zoonoses serves to raise awareness for common pathogens that may be present when dealing with wildlife in North America (click to enlarge each image).

Type of zoonosis
Types of zoonosis
Bites and scratches

CDC. (2021, July 1). Zoonotic Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rahman, Md. T., Sobur, Md. A., Islam, Md. S., Ievy, S., Hossain, Md. J., El Zowalaty, M. E., Rahman, A. T., & Ashour, H. M. (2020). Zoonotic Diseases: Etiology, Impact, and Control. Microorganisms, 8(9), 1405.

World Health Organization. (2020, July 29). Zoonoses. World Health Organization.

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