As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the rapidly growing number of cases is alarming—largely because many are stymied by its origins. COVID-19 is an exampleof zoonosis: a disease or infection that is transmitted to humans from animals.
COVID-19 is the name of thespecific illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The exact origins of COVID-19 are not yet clearly understood, but the first outbreak of cases have been associated with alive animal market in Wuhan, China. It is thought that this particular coronavirus originated in bats who then infected the live animals sold in the market. The leap from animal to human was thought to have occurred because of humans’ close exposure to the animals in the market; but which exact animals were the source, and whether humans inhaled, ingested, or simply touched animal byproducts to become infected, is still unknown.
Stackerused theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site and other public health resources to compile a list of 30 other diseases that are also transmitted by animals to humans. These illnesses range from diseases to infections and may cause a variety of symptoms, from vomiting and hallucinations to external rashes and sores. Though some are spread widely through the contamination of other surfaces by an animal’s bodily fluids, some can only be contracted through direct contact with a specific animal.
Once humans are infected, they may be able to spread it from person to person—as is the case with Ebola, giardiasis, and ringworm—or it may only be contracted directly from animals—as with Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and many other diseases. The ability for humans to transmit disease to one another after it is initially introduced from animals has historically been a dividing line between zoonosis cases that remain relatively uncommon, and those that have progressed into widespread national health concern—even pandemics like the one we are experiencing today.
Read on to learn about some of the most notable animal-transmitted diseases, where they are found, and what can be done to treat them.
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