A zoonosis (plural: zoonoses), also known as a zoonotic disease, is an infectious disease in humans (the host) for which another vertebrate animal can be the vector. Some zoonoses have an additional vector besides the vertebrate e.g. R. rickettsii is carried by ticks on mammals. Viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites can be zoonoses.
60% of cases of infectious disease are zoonotic in origin 1.
Zoonoses may be spread through direct or indirect contact with animals. Diseases that cannot exist without humans are not considered zoonotic by all sources (e.g. variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), and neither are some diseases that may have begun as zoonoses but are predominantly transmitted by humans (e.g. HIV).
Examples of zoonotic diseases, with causative entities in brackets, include:
- anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
- brucellosis (Brucella spp.)
- COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)
- human African trypanosomiasis (Trypanosoma brucei)
- leishmaniasis (Leishmania spp.)
- leptospirosis (Leptospira spp.)
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (MERS-CoV)
- Q fever (Coxiella burnetii)
- rabies (rabies virus)
- sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (SARS-CoV)
- tuberculosis (Mycobacteria spp.)
- tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
- variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (prion)
History and etymology
In Greek, the word ζώο (zoo) means animal and νοσος (nosos) means disease 2,3.
- 1. Cross AR, Baldwin VM, Roy S, Essex-Lopresti AE, Prior JL, Harmer NJ. Zoonoses under our noses. (2019) Microbes and infection. 21 (1): 10-19. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2018.06.001 - Pubmed
- 2. William Alexander Newman Dorland. Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. (2018) ISBN: 9781416023647
- 3. James Morwood, John Taylor. Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. (2002) ISBN: 9780198605126
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Terms used in radiology