Known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses, animals can sometimes carry harmful germs that can spread to humans and cause illness. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi are all responsible for zoonotic diseases. These germs can cause various illnesses in humans and animals, ranging from mild to severe and even death. Depending on the zoonotic disease, animals can appear healthy even if they carry germs that can make people sick.
Both in the United States and around the world, zoonotic diseases are widespread. According to scientists, more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in humans are spread by animals, and animals spread 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in humans.
Which Animal Species Spread Disease To Humans?
Some animal species such as rats or bats are known for carrying diseases, while other species, such are squirrels, are thought to be sweet or cute. The truth is that nearly every animal that comes into contact with humans can transmit diseases. Rats, for example, are a particular problem because they can spread disease not only through their feces and urine but also through scratching and biting. Less commonly seen animals such as moles, opossums, and beavers also carry diseases specific to their species. The best advice is to be cautious and take the necessary precautions when dealing with wild animals, from feral cats to skunks, raccoons, and other animals.
How Can Wild Animals Transmit Diseases To People?
A squirrel or bat living in your attic may not seem like a problem, but they bring infectious disease along with them. The longer an animal remains in or near your home, the more droppings and urine they leave behind. That same urine and feces contain harmful bacteria that put you and your pets at risk. Pets may eat this feces and contract an illness, or humans may contract the bacteria while cleaning up the feces.
Another common method of disease transmission comes when homeowners attempt to remove a wild animal from their home. When animals feel cornered, they will attack in self-defense. A bite from a rabid raccoon or infected bat can spread disease to a human. It’s important to contact wildlife removal experts for pest removal help because they are equipped with the proper equipment and training to relocate any animal from a house.
Feces & Urine
Pathogens can be found in animal stool or urine in a variety of forms. Intestinal pathogens can cause asymptomatic infection, diarrhea, or systemic disease in animals and humans. Touching, breathing in the air surrounding feces, and accidental consumption is how people or pets can become infected. It’s important to be careful when cleaning up wildlife excrement because the feces is contagious as soon as it is dropped.
A common disease spread through animal feces is salmonella. Salmonella can contaminate food or water sources and make its way to humans. Stool from wildlife infected with Salmonella or Campylobacter is immediately infectious to humans and other animals. Dogs often come into contact with salmonella-infected feces and spread the disease to their owners.
Bites & Saliva
The most obvious was a wild animal can spread disease to humans is through a bite. The infected animal’s saliva contains bacteria and viruses. A common disease spread by animals through bites is rabies.
The rabies virus causes rabies infection. Infected animals spread the virus through their saliva. Infected animals can spread the virus to other animals or humans by biting them.
Rabies can be spread in rare cases when infected saliva enters an open wound or mucous membranes like the mouth or eyes. If an infected animal licks an open cut on your skin, it could result in the disease’s contraction.
How To Avoid Contracting Diseases From Wildlife?
Because wild animals can carry diseases without showing signs of illness, it’s best to observe wildlife from a safe distance. People and pets can contract these diseases through close contact with wildlife or their urine or droppings. Follow these precautions to ensure the health of you and your family:
- Contact wildlife technicians to remove any animals living in the attic.
- Hand-feeding wildlife is not recommended.
- Avoid areas where there are animal droppings.
- Orphaned animals should be left alone. Parents are frequently close by and will return for their children.
- Keep pets away from wild animals.
- After working or playing outside, always wash your hands and the hands of your children with running water and soap, especially in areas where wildlife has been spotted.
Diseases Spread by Feces Contact
- Visceral Larval Migrans (Dog ascarid is Toxocara canis, Cat ascarid is Toxocara cati, Pig ascarid is Ascaris suum)
- Baylisascaris procyonis
- Avian Influenza
Diseases Spread by Urine Contact