What are zoonoses? Ask questions and learn how to avoid

When you have a pet, no matter how much it fills the environment in which it lives with joy, there are a number of concerns that tutors should have to maintain the pet’s health and well-being.

Still talking about animal health, a term that is seen repeatedly is zoonosis. But after all, what does this mean and what dangers does it pose to animals?

Zoonoses are diseases caused by infectious agents (bacteria, fungi, viruses, helminths,  etc.), which can not only pose a danger to animals, but also to humans, and one can end up being infected thanks to the other. This type of illness is classified in two ways:

  • Anthropozooses: zoonoses that are primarily from animals and that can be contracted by humans.
  • Zooanthroponoses: disease is typically human, but can be contracted by an animal.

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Origin and transmission

It is believed that zoonoses started to emerge soon after humanity stopped living in a nomadic way and dominated agriculture and livestock, as this caused people to settle in fixed places and change the environment in several ways.

Currently, the appearance of new zoonoses is mainly due to changes in the environment, such as the construction of roads through forests or the emergence of communities within this type of place, as this brings people closer to the natural environment of various diseases.

Zoonoses can be transmitted in several ways, and can be contracted directly through the urine, hair, paws, feces or saliva of domestic or wild animals; or indirectly, through a bite from a mosquito or other insect, mainly a blood-sucking insect, that has bitten a zoonosis host animal.

Main diseases

Although there is an extensive list of diseases that are considered zoonoses, there are those that are more common and / or popular due to their severity. Are they:

  • Rage;
  • Leishmaniasis;
  • Leptospirosis;
  • Ebola;
  • Scabies;
  • Hantavirus;
  • Dengue;
  • Bubonic plague;
  • Toxoplasmosis;
  • Tuberculosis;


Personal hygiene and that of your pets, as well as the environment in which you live, plus periodic visits to the veterinarian can greatly reduce the risks of contracting a zoonosis.

Care to avoid zoonoses

As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Fortunately, for zoonoses, there are several habits that, if followed, will rid you and your family, as well as your pet, of disease. Some of the main precautions are:

  • Take pets frequently to the veterinarian to check if the pet needs any kind of care;
  • Make sure the pet is eating well and with quality (avoid raw food, such as meat or unpasteurized milk);
  • Make sure the pet has no fleas, ticks or worms;
  • Wear gloves when you need to clean your pet’s waste and wash your hands thoroughly after contact;
  • Avoid having contact with sick or wild animals;
  • Do not let your pet drink water of dubious origin or eat feces from other animals;
  • Make sure that both you and your pets have their vaccines up to date;
  • The most important tip to avoid zoonoses is hygiene, as a dirty place will attract unwanted visitors to your home or your pet.


Also called hydrophobia, rabies is perhaps the most famous zoonosis. She is depicted with the figure of a rabid dog with a foaming mouth. Although there is a vaccine against the disease, it is only effective in the first days after infection. In some cases, the person may not even feel the moment when he is infected, as in cases where the contagion happens through bites of blood-sucking bats.

After a few days, the infection reaches the brain and the disease is considered fatal. Fortunately, in 2004, an experimental treatment where the patient is placed in an induced coma so that the infection does not spread and antivirals are administered to fight the disease proved to be effective, for curing Jeanna Giese, who at the time was 15 years old. The treatment became known as the Milwaukee Protocol and was created by infection specialist pediatrician Rodney Willoughby Jr.

In 2009, the first case of rabies cure in Brazil was reported. The young Marciano Menezes da Silva, who lives in Floresta, a city in the interior of Pernambuco, was bitten by a bat and after the doctors at the Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital, which is in the state capital, followed the Milwaukee Protocol, they managed to cure the after he spent 11 months in hospital.

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