By | June 10, 2022

Infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans are more common than previously thought. This problem is most widespread in Africa and India. But there are also cases of disease in Europe that are referred to as zoonosis.

What is a zoonosis?

The term zoonosis includes all infectious diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans. For hiv definition and meaning, please visit howsmb.com.

The animals form the pathogen reservoir, while in most cases humans are the final link in this chain of infection. The most widespread zoonoses in Central Europe include salmonella enteritis, anthrax, brucellosis, leptospirosis, Q fever, yersiniosis and listeriosis.

More than 200 zoonoses are known worldwide. In particular, the factory farming that is common in technically highly developed countries has promoted the spread of many zoonoses.


A zoonosis can be caused by viruses ( bird flu, rabies ), bacteria (salmonellosis, Lyme disease ), fungi (trichophytia), protozoa ( toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis) or worms (diphyllobothriasis, dirofilariasis).

There are many possible transmission routes. A zoonosis can occur through direct contact with infected animals, through animal foods such as milk, meat or eggs, and through pathogens known as vectors. These vectors do not themselves cause the disease and do not contract it. A well-known example of such vectors are ticks, which transmit tick -borne encephalitis (TBE).

When the tick bites humans, the TBE viruses are transmitted to humans. However, the sting itself is not the cause of the condition. This is also the reason why not everyone who has been bitten by a tick gets FMSE.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A zoonosis can affect anyone. People with a previous illness are often plagued by severe symptoms. They can have life-threatening complications if they become ill. Meningitis and other things are possible. Depending on the severity, the signs are not clear. Usually the skin is affected or there are symptoms reminiscent of the flu.

Skin rashes are widespread. These occur alone or are associated with headaches and fatigue. Nausea and diarrhea also set in. The most common zoonosis is toxoplasmosis. It leads to illness for several weeks before subsequent recovery without any medical help.

It is characterized by febrile conditions and swollen lymph nodes. The internal organs are also sometimes attacked in a zoonosis. If transmission occurs via food, the gastrointestinal tract is affected. Patients complain of fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Many people are familiar with Salmonella infection. It causes a classic intestinal disease. In some cases, as with Lyme disease, joint and limb pain also occur. Severe diseases result in problems in the heart, liver and spleen. Sometimes symptoms can be identified in the nervous system.

Diagnosis & History

A detailed discussion about the previous course of the disease is of crucial importance for the diagnosis of a zoonosis. This interview will be followed by a physical exam and possibly a blood test. The use of other diagnostic options depends on the type of suspected zoonosis. Depending on the symptoms, e.g. B. blood cultures, stool samples, bone marrow, samples from abscesses and lymph nodes used.


The complications of a zoonosis depend on the type of infection, the course of the disease and other factors. Basically, viral diseases are associated with general symptoms such as fever, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. For example, untreated bird flu often leads to severe pneumonia, while rabies can cause meningitis.

A zoonosis is almost always associated with reddening of the skin and side effects such as itching or bleeding. Blood poisoning can also occur as part of a disease transmission from animals to humans. The details of the symptoms depend on how severe the infection is and how quickly it is treated. Early treatment can usually prevent serious complications, but in the case of rabies or bird flu, secondary symptoms and sometimes late effects can always be expected.

In the case of zoonosis therapy, the risks mainly come from the drugs prescribed. Antibiotics occasionally cause headaches, muscle and joint pains, gastrointestinal problems or skin irritations, and long-term use can also cause permanent damage to internal organs. In symptomatic treatment, the complications depend on the medication prescribed.

When should you go to the doctor?

If the general state of health deteriorates, a doctor should always be consulted. In particular, people with previous illnesses or a weakened immune system should seek the support and help of medical care as soon as they perceive impairments in their well-being. They should be dealt with as quickly as possible in the event of changes. A diffuse feeling of illness, fatigue or exhaustion are already among the complaints that should be examined. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea is also a concern. Disorders of sleep, increased body temperature and abdominal pain should be presented to a doctor. Do these irregularities last for several days or do they increase in intensity and extent?

Swelling of the lymph nodes, irregularities in the gastrointestinal tract or cardiac arrhythmias require medical attention. If the disease progresses severely, a zoonosis can lead to premature death of the affected person. Patients at risk, in particular, are therefore asked to discuss changes in their health with a doctor. If headaches, inner restlessness or joint pain appear, there is a need for action. Cognitive changes and behavioral problems should also be presented to a doctor. Loss of appetite or loss of body weight are among the complaints that require medical attention. Otherwise, there may be an undersupply of the organism and secondary diseases.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of a zoonosis also depends on its type. In the case of bacterial zoonoses, treatment is normally carried out by administering suitable antibiotics. This is usually prescribed for several weeks, and even longer for affected organs.

As a rule, an effective antibiotic is determined in the laboratory. For most infections affecting the digestive tract, therapy is exclusively symptomatic by compensating for fluid and salt losses.

In these cases, antibiotics are not appropriate, with a few exceptions ( meningitis, septicemia, long-term excretion, babies), since they shorten the course of the disease, but prolong the excretion of germs.


Since zoonosis can have many causes, there are no universally applicable preventive measures. Good hygiene is generally an important protection against infectious diseases of any form. Even washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with hot water and soap can prevent many infections.

Hygienic storage and preparation of food are also important preventive measures. Heating or freezing the food helps against some zoonoses such as teniosis or toxoplasmosis. prions, e.g. B. cause the new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, but are very resistant and can not be killed by such agents. Some zoonotic pathogens can be dealt with by disinfection. These include, for example, influenza viruses.

In most cases, infection with a zoonosis occurs via food. However, caution should also be exercised when a pet is diagnosed as having a zoonosis. It is best to clarify with the veterinarian how the pathogen can be transmitted and how long the animal is contagious. Thorough hand washing is essential after contact with a zoonotic animal. Cages, litter boxes, etc. must be cleaned daily when an animal has a zoonosis.

In general, when dealing with pets and farm animals, care must be taken to ensure species-appropriate, hygienic husbandry. Lice, ticks and mites should be removed as soon as possible and worm-prone animals should be dewormed regularly. In addition, some zoonotic infections can be prevented by appropriate vaccinations.

Many people become infected with a zoonosis while traveling. It is therefore advisable to obtain precise information about the travel destination in advance and to take appropriate protective measures in the form of vaccinations or emergency medication.


Depending on how severe the symptoms were, the body is very weak due to zoonosis. Therefore, everything that helps the patient to regenerate is recommended during aftercare. This includes, first and foremost, a healthy lifestyle. Especially in the aftercare period, long walks in the fresh air and other physical activities are advisable.

They get the patient’s circulation going without overtaxing it at the same time. Of course, the patient should not unnecessarily burden his immune system. Long disco evenings, smoking or excessive alcohol consumption are therefore not recommended. Instead, a regular sleep and wake cycle with fixed rest and wake-up times is recommended.

A healthy diet is also part of the aftercare. Eating too much fat and too many calories puts an unnecessary strain on the body. Light, freshly cooked meals made from organically grown foods are advisable. The diet should contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, two liters of water daily are recommended to relieve the patient’s liver and kidneys and flush out possible toxins.

If the patient took an antibiotic to treat his zoonosis, this could have damaged the intestinal flora. Because a large part of the human immune cells are located in the intestine, administration of probiotics is indicated in this case. A naturopathic doctor or naturopath can recommend appropriate products.

You can do that yourself

The treatment of a zoonosis always belongs in the hands of a doctor. Depending on the type of zoonosis the patient suffers from, therapy may be lengthy and difficult. Good compliance is now important: Especially when antibiotics have been prescribed, it is imperative that the patient adhere to the recommended dose and duration of treatment. At the same time, the patient can also watch out for possible undesirable side effects of antibiotic therapy, such as fungal infections on the skin. The faster they are discovered, the faster they can be treated and eliminated.

A zoonosis and its treatment can greatly weaken the body. Therefore, during the time of illness and convalescence, patients should ensure that they actively support the healing process by not burdening the body with additional toxins (alcohol, nicotine, exhaust fumes, drugs, etc.) and by allowing themselves sufficient rest periods. A healthy diet also has a positive impact on recovery. Lots of exercise in the fresh air also activates the immune system.

Future sources of infection for a zoonosis should be eliminated if possible. This includes the hygienic preparation of perfect food as well as regular deworming of your own pets and protection against ticks outdoors. Long trousers and the use of a repellent to protect against ticks are advisable, especially when walking in the woods, especially in Germany’s TBE risk areas.