Zoonosis (zo-OH-no-sis) means a disease that people can get from animals.
There are more than 200 different kinds of zoonoses (plural of zoonosis) caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other things. People can get zoonoses from animals in a number of different ways. For example, animal bites can cause rabies, contaminated food can cause salmonella, mouse droppings can cause hantavirus, ticks can spread Lyme disease, and mosquito bites can lead to diseases like malaria or West Nile virus.
Some zoonoses can be very dangerous to humans, but many cause only mild symptoms. Treatment for zoonoses depends on the disease and can range from rest and hydration to surgery (if there are complications) and an extended stay in the hospital.
Many zoonoses can be prevented by following rules for safe food preparation, drinking only bottled or treated water, washing hands after touching animals, keeping pets healthy and up to date on their shots, following precautions to prevent mosquito or tick bites and staying away from wild animals.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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