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Concept.png Zoonosis Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Interest of• Peter Daszak
• Wuhan Institute of Virology

A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that spread from non-human animals (usually vertebrates) to humans.[1][2]

Major modern diseases such as Ebola virus disease and salmonellosis are zoonoses. HIV was a zoonotic disease transmitted to humans in the early part of the 20th century, though it has now mutated to a separate human-only disease. Most strains of influenza that infect humans are human diseases, although many strains of bird flu and swine flu are zoonoses; these viruses occasionally recombine with human strains of the flu and can cause pandemics such as the 1918 Spanish flu or the 2009 swine flu. Zoonoses can be caused by a range of disease pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites; of 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans, 61% were zoonotic. Most human diseases originated in other animals; however, only diseases that routinely involve non-human to human transmission, such as rabies, are considered direct zoonosis.[3]

Zoonoses have different modes of transmission. In direct zoonosis the disease is directly transmitted from other animals to humans through media such as air (influenza) or through bites and saliva (rabies).[4] In contrast, transmission can also occur via an intermediate species (referred to as a vector), which carry the disease pathogen without getting infected. When humans infect other animals, it is called reverse zoonosis or anthroponosis.[5] The term is from Greek: ζῷον zoon "animal" and νόσος nosos "sickness".


  1. "Zoonoses"
  2. "A glimpse into Canada's highest containment laboratory for animal health: The National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases" Zoonoses are infectious diseases which jump from an animal host or reservoir into humans.
  3. Marx PA, Apetrei C, Drucker E "AIDS as a zoonosis? Confusion over the origin of the virus and the origin of the epidemics"
  4. "Zoonosis"
  5. Messenger AM, Barnes AN, Gray GC "Reverse zoonotic disease transmission (zooanthroponosis): a systematic review of seldom-documented human biological threats to animals"
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