Z is for Zoonoses

What is a zoonosis?  It’s a disease that can be transferred from an animal (or bird) to a human.  Think of ‘Mad Cow Disease’ (BST) and Bird Flu – both zoonoses.

Catteries, kennels, equestrian centres, zoos and farms are all places where care needs to be taken.  People who look after any animals need to know the health history of the animals they are caring for to ensure that they are not likely to be at risk.

If you don’t have animals of any kind in your workplace then you may not need to worry, but some of these strains of disease transmute and become able to pass from human to human.  If an epidemic breaks out then services that affect your business can be affected.

The frightening statistic is that, in a study of 1415 pathogens (viruses, bacteria or other disease causing agents) known to affect humans, 61% were zoonotic.  Zoonoses constitute biohazards – and where there is a danger of disease the biohazard signs should be displayed.

You never know when you – or your family – may be at risk.  A petting farm for children in Surrey was closed down because of zoonoses being present.  How many of us would not think twice about taking our children, or young relations, to play with the cuddly animals on a farm?

Does this mean that you avoid all animals at all costs?  No, but it does means that personal hygiene is essential.  If you’re around animals you don’t know, don’t eat or smoke after touching them as there is the potential to transfer bacteria and viruses from the animal to your mouth. The best advice to follow is what your mother told you to do – WASH YOUR HANDS!  If more people bothered to do this regularly, far fewer diseases would survive.