Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transferred between people and animals. Some of the most commonly-recognized zoonotic diseases include West Nile virus, E. Coli 0157:H7, avian flu, and Rabies. Experts estimate 60 percent of all human diseases can move from human to animal and vice-versa. In fact, over the past three decades, approximately 75 percent of new emerging human infectious diseases have been zoonotic.

Scientists are working to identify and protect against potential health threats developing outside the human species. On a global level, physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and government agencies are working together to examine and eradicate public health diseases at the nexus of animal and human health. Keeping animals healthy helps keep humans healthy.

How can the spread of zoonotic diseases be prevented?

  • By vaccinating pets and livestock
  • By providing veterinarians, farmers and ranchers with appropriate medicines to treatment and prevent illness in pets and livestock
  • By washing your hands after handling an animal

Why are animal medicines needed for zoonotic diseases?

Disease prevention is a continuum that starts with keeping animals healthy and results in improved human health. Proper animal health management and veterinary care that includes the use of vaccines, flea and tick products, and pharmaceuticals can help keep animals healthy and prevent disease transmission to humans and improve the way we live.

Zoonotic Disease in Focus: Canine Influenza H3N8 & H3N2

Canine Influenza, or dog flu, is a contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats. Currently two strains of canine influenza virus have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. Currently there is no evidence that either strain of canine influenza can or does infect humans.

In March 2015, the first H3N2 influenza case was identified in the United States after an outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs located in the Chicago, IL area. This was the first case of canine influenza in the U.S. as prior cases were restricted to South Korea, China and Thailand. After the initial diagnosis in Chicago, more cases of H3N2 were reported in early 2016. In Indiana, a group of shelter cats were diagnosed with canine H3N2 influenza which is thought to have transmitted from infected dogs.

Most recently, in May 2017, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana and Illinois have cases of canine H3N2 influenza in dogs. These outbreaks have been found as the same strain of H3N2 discovered in Chicago in 2015.

Like most influenza viruses, H3N8 and H3N2 are spread through respiratory secretions and have the potential to infect additional species. Changes to the virus’s genetics and structure can increase its pathogenicity, and these spontaneous changes can potentially increase risk of the virus infecting humans. This ability of viruses to mutate and infect other species, including humans, is why it is so important to keep animals healthy.  We protect human health by protecting animal health.

Signs and symptoms of the disease can vary, and only veterinarians are trained in the proper ways to diagnose and treat the disease. Prevention through vaccination is the best way to address canine influenza.

For more information on dog flu, please visit:

CDC Key Facts on Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) Canine Influenza FAQ

Canine Influenza Outbreak in Chicago

What are Experts Saying?

  • Veterinarians are the first-line of defense in protecting against the spread of zoonotic diseases. Hear from Dr. Ron DeHaven of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) about what the general public should know about zoonotic diseases. | Video
  • Learn how to prevent diseases that can be transmitted from your cat or dog. | Video
  • CAST Publications on Avian Influenza and Vaccine Development |PDF
  • The Human-Animal Connection |PDF

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