There are a variety of diseases transmissible from animals to people. Diseases of public health significance include avian chlamydiosis (psittacosis), avian influenza, novel influenza, and parasitic infections caused by Echinococcus multilocularis.
Avian chlamydiosis is a disease of birds, caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci. Although most species of birds are able to transmit the disease, the most common are psittacine (parrot-type) birds, especially cockatiels and budgerigars (commonly called parakeets or budgies). Avian chlamydiosis can also occur in poultry, pigeons and doves as well as canaries and finches, but is less frequently diagnosed in these birds.
Birds can transmit avian chlamydiosis to humans, causing human psittacosis. The transmission of avian chlamydiosis to humans occurs when a person inhales dust or other dried secretions from birds. Bacterial infections caused by C. psittaci can cause severe pneumonia and other serious health problems in humans.
While there is no vaccine to prevent human psittacosis, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and others, including:
Avian influenza (bird flu) is a disease that can affect all species of birds. There are at least 15 types of avian influenza, and all are caused by various strains of type A influenza virus. Avian influenza is spread by direct contact between infected birds and healthy birds. It can also be spread when healthy birds come in contact with equipment or materials (including water and feed) that have been contaminated with feces or secretions from infected birds.
Although avian influenza A viruses circulates among birds, the viruses can occasionally infect other species. While rare, transmission of this virus to humans usually occurs through exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments, such as live poultry markets. Most avian influenza viruses do not cause disease in humans. However, there are some strains that can cause illness in humans. Illness in humans from avian influenza A virus infections range in severity from no symptoms or mild illness. Some strains that are rarely transmitted to humans can lead to death.
Wild aquatic birds can be infected with avian influenza A viruses. Some species, such as ducks, may not get sick even though they are infected. Other infected birds, such as chickens, ducks and turkeys may show one or many of these signs:
There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others from avian influenza, including:
Novel influenza viruses are any type of influenza viruses that are newly discovered in Ontario’s mammals. For example, swine influenza viruses in pigs, equine influenza viruses in horses, and canine influenza in dogs.
Swine, equine and canine influenza viruses rarely infect humans, however occasionally they do. It is believed that the 2009-2010 pandemic influenza virus was the result of swine influenza transmission from pigs to humans. Transmission of novel influenza viruses from animals to humans usually occurs when an infected animal coughs or sneezes and aerosol droplets spread through the air and come in contact with humans.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others from novel influenza, including:
Echinococcus multilocularis is a small tapeworm found commonly in the northern hemisphere. To date, there have only been a few cases of E. multilocularis infections of dogs and cats detected in Ontario. Dogs (or animals such as foxes and coyotes) and rarely cats are the main hosts for the tapeworm.
Humans can be infected by E. multilocularis tapeworms, which can cause alveolar echinococcosis (AE). E. multilocularis infection of humans and animals occurs when there is contact with infective E. multilocularis tapeworm eggs found in the environment or from other animals. For example, transmission to humans mainly occurs through poor hygiene when handling feces, or ingesting microscopic E. multilocularis tapeworm eggs that may be stuck on an animal’s coat.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others from being infected with E. multilocularis, including:
There are also several things you can do to protect your dog from being infected with E. multilocularis, including: