What is Zoonosis?

Zoonosis is an infectious pathogenic disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. The term “zoonosis” is a combination of the Greek words - zoon (animals) and noson (disease).

What are the Causes of Zoonosis?

The pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungi, or parasite) get transmitted either due to direct contact through contaminated food, water, air, or through a vector (carrier).

The dependence on animals for food and other by-products has increased the contact with animals, increasing the chances of contracting zoonotic diseases. Both domestic and wild animals can be carriers of zoonotic diseases.

The main reason behind the increase in zoonotic diseases is overpopulation, which has led to a rise in deforestation and encroachment into forests. This has severely disrupted the ecological balance. There is now an increased contact between humans and rare animal species, which has further increased the risk of zoonotic diseases.

What is WHO’s List of Zoonotic Diseases?

The WHO has concluded that most of the infectious diseases are zoonotic in nature, with more than 200 known types of zoonoses. It has classified diseases like HIV, smallpox, SARS, swine flu, elephantiasis, rabies, etc., as zoonotic.

Who are at Higher Risk?

The pathogens causing zoonosis may affect individuals differently. Some of them may show mild symptoms, while others may get infected seriously, sometimes leading to death.

People at higher risk

  • Adults above 65 years
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a weak immune system

How to Prevent Zoonosis?

  • Zoonotic diseases can be prevented by washing hands after coming in contact with animals, including pets
  • Maintaining ecological balance by planting trees, avoiding overuse of animal products
  • Timely vaccination of pets
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