Diseases that can spread from animals to humans

A disease that is naturally transmissible from animals to people is classified as a zoonosis.

Zoonotic diseases can spread in many ways, such as:

  • working closely with infected livestock
  • contact with infected pets, exhibited animals or wildlife
  • contact with soil or water contaminated by animals
  • consumption of contaminated unpasteurised dairy products.

Preventing the spread of animal diseases to humans

Practising good personal hygiene, wearing protective clothing, maintaining healthy animals and undertaking preventative treatments and vaccinations where appropriate can minimise the risk of some animal-borne diseases infecting people.

If you work with or handle animals you should take precautions to reduce your risk of infection.

  • Keep animals healthy.
    • Minimise their exposure to other animals that are likely to be infected (e.g. minimise domestic dog exposure to feral pigs that may be infected with Brucella suis. Dogs may become infected and serve as a source of infection for humans).
    • Vaccinate livestock for known zoonotic diseases, such as anthrax and leptospirosis in cattle, and Hendra virus in horses.
  • Ensure you and your staff are vaccinated for zoonotic diseases where a vaccine is available and you are at risk of contracting the disease, such as Q-Fever.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) where possible, and cover any wounds with water-tight dressings. Protect against mosquitoes and other biting insects that can transmit diseases by:
    • covering up with a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt and long pants when outside
    • applying mosquito repellent to exposed skin.
  • Disinfect or wash your hands regularly – especially before eating, preparing food or smoking.
  • Ensure you, your family and your staff seek medical attention if unwell. Talk to your medical practitioner about minimising the likelihood of being infected with zoonotic diseases.

Known zoonotic diseases

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