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Animal Diseases (Zoonoses)

Diseases that individuals can catch from animals are called zoonoses. About seventy-five percent of the new diseases affecting humans in the past decade can be traced to animals or animal products. Zoonoses can be acquired directly from an animal, or indirectly, through the environment.

Farm animals can carry zoonoses. If you touch a farm animal or objects they have touched, like fencing or buckets, wash your hands thoroughly to reduce your risk of getting sick. Adults should make sure children visiting farms or petting zoos wash as well.

Pets can also make you sick. Reptiles pose a particular risk. Turtles, snakes and iguanas can transmit Salmonella bacteria to their owners. You can get rabies from an infected dog or toxoplasmosis from handling kitty litter of an infected cat. The chance that your dog or cat will make you sick is small. You can reduce your risk by practicing good personal hygiene, keeping pet areas clean and keeping your pets' immunizations up to date.

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