Zoonotic diseases and COVID-19

| May 25, 2020

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For agriculture, like so many sectors, animals are essential. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animals can sometimes carry harmful germs that can spread to people and cause illness. At other times, people can pass their germs to animals and make the animal ill. Illnesses that are passed between humans and animals are known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses.

There are many examples of zoonotic diseases, including rabies, West Nile virus, and COVID-19. These diseases are all very different from each other in their causes, symptoms, severity, and transmission.

For example, rabies can be spread through domestic animals and West Nile virus is spread through mosquito bites. COVID-19 is not spread to humans by either of these routes. Instead, COVID-19 is only spread between people through droplets that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.

Right now, there are very few vaccines available for zoonotic diseases. Scientists are trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 but think that it may be at least 12 to 18 months away. The process of creating a vaccine requires careful and long-term scientific research.

For more general information on zoonotic diseases, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html

* Please note that the information in this resource is not specific to COVID-19 but talks about all types of zoonotic diseases.