As the death toll of victims to the corona virus outbreak rises, we are reminded that zoonotic diseases are increasing around the world. Zoonotic diseases are infections that can be passed from domestic animals and wildlife to humans. Scientists believe they are on the rise because of human population growth and an increased demand for food. The bushmeat trade has been tied to zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and HIV. The current corona virus in China has been traced back to a wet market in Wuhan where live and dead animals; dogs, chickens, civets, pigs, are together in a confined space. Scientists believe bats that live near these urban areas are the source of the SARS virus and this corona virus outbreak. Bats pass viruses in their poop. From there the virus can be passed to other animals. In these wet markets live animals are slaughtered and skinned in view of the shopper who wants to see what they are purchasing. These markets are therefore prime breeding grounds for viruses and other infections.
Our domestic animal pets can spread zoonotic diseases to us and we in turn can spread them back. This latest outbreak in China should remind us that we must be aware of these zoonotic diseases. Most of the viral and bacterial infections are transmitted from dogs to humans by dog bite; however, other infections caused by protozoa have a fecal oral transmission. Wash your hands frequently when in contact with your pet and if either of you are not feeling well, be extra cautious, and contact your veterinarian.