Zoonoses | Overview, Quick Facts and Resources

Preventing disease in animals doesn’t only protect their wellbeing – it’s one of the most effective steps we can take in protecting our own health.

Animals on the farm provide a safe supply of food, while pets in the home are important companions for our families. However, when animals fall ill – it endangers our health as well.

60% of diseases in the world are zoonotic, meaning it can spread from animals to people. They are responsible for at least 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year.

Simple steps such as handwashing, mosquito prevention, and cooking techniques will limit your exposure to zoonotic disease, but, ultimately, the most effective method is preventing an animal from contracting the disease altogether.

The disease never has an opportunity to pass to us. We’re better protected while the animal remains a healthy part of the farm or home. This is invaluable support for the 70% of the world’s ‘extreme poor’ who depend on livestock for their livelihood or the countless people that have welcomed a pet into their lives.

The need for further treatments, like antibiotics, also falls with better disease prevention. When an animal is vaccinated or has better nutrition, its immune system can naturally resist a bacterial infection. The animal will not need an antibiotic, which preserves its effectiveness for a future outbreak. 

Prevention begins with vaccination, good nutrition, and strong biosecurity. HealthforAnimals Members are continually developing new products that maintain these cornerstones.

Medicines such as custom vaccines can target specific herds with unique diagnoses or feed additives can enhance the natural gut health of an animal. Data analytics is also helping make diagnostics faster and more accurate, while providing insights on biosecurity improvements.

Farmers and veterinarians have cutting-edge tools at their fingertips to prevent disease and its catastrophic effects. With the right implementation and government support, especially in growing regions like Africa and Asia, we can save the lives of both people and animals.

Disease prevention is essential to both animals and people. It is the foundation of good health. 

Quick Facts

  • Zoonoses hurt economies:  Global efforts to manage diseases originating in animals and prevent loss of human life cost an estimated US$120 billion globally between 1995 and 2008.
  • Zoonoses threaten people: Just 13 zoonoses, diseases which can be transferred from animals to people and vice-versa, are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year. Stopping zoonoses in animals safeguards our health.
  • Emerging diseases control: Five new emerging diseases appear each year; three or four of these will be zoonotic. Most of these will originate in wildlife. Improving wildlife monitoring can better protect people and animals against these diseases.
  • Prevention protects Animal medicines are essential in the treatment of disease, but their role in zoonotic disease prevention is of paramount importance. Preventative medicine, including animal health medicines, in the time of a disaster in a developing region pays US$6.69 in benefits for every US$1 spent.
  • Monitoring is key: The animal health sector takes a leading role in monitoring these emerging diseases. We work with global organizations such as OIE to support effective disease monitoring and management, and invest in skills so we can play a key role in disease management.