Identifying and Treating Zoonotic Diseases

Country Vet Jon Geller shares with homesteaders tips on identifying and treating zoonotic diseases. Learn how to keep zoonotic diseases transmitting to humans from host livestock and domestic animals.

| June/July 2000

  • Identifying and treating zoonotic diseases
    Identifying and treating zoonotic diseases.
    ILLUSTRATION: DAVE KLUG
  • Tularemia in rabbits
    Tularemia in rabbits.
    DAVE KLUG

  • Identifying and treating zoonotic diseases
  • Tularemia in rabbits

Learn about identifying and treating zoonotic diseases in livestock and domestic animals.  

Getting more than you bargained for from your pets or livestock when identifying and treating zoonotic diseases.

When a group of veterinarians get together, it is always an entertaining experience. Lengthy, colorful recountings of unusual cases abound, and inevitably the descriptions get more dramatic with each telling. This year's national veterinary conference promised to be no exception. I'd arrived less than an hour earlier at the popular Colorado ski resort hosting the event. The other large-animal veterinarians milling around the hotel lobby had been easy to spot: Justin boots, cowboy hats and Carhartt overall looked out of place among the shiny ski suits and furry apres-ski booties. I'd promptly found my way to a room advertising a roundtable discussion entitled "Public Health and Zoonotic Disease."

Zoonotic diseases are those transmitted from animals to humans. Worldwide, they are a serious problem, especially in developing countries with less than ideal sanitary conditions. But the United States too, has its share of zoonotic troubles, which are only exacerbated by the increase in immunosuppressive diseases like AIDS.



Since many physicians may not be especially familiar with zoonotic diseases, veterinarians need to be ever vigilant in spotting signs and symptoms. Fortunately, Dr. Bill and the other vets gathered for the discussion were only too happy to recall their more dramatic cases. I pulled out a pad and pen and scribbled a few notes.

Roundworm Infection

Dr. Bill went on to describe how the roundworm got into the boy's eye. It turns out that most puppies and kittens are born with or soon acquire roundworms. When the young dogs or cats shed the eggs of the roundworm in their feces, the eggs can encyst in the soil for years. Dirt-eating toddlers eagerly scoop up the parasite-infested dirt and swallow the cysts. The reactivated eggs hatch into immature roundworms that migrate throughout the body, somehow ending up in the ocular fluid. The sight of one of these roundworms wriggling across the anterior chamber of the eye is unforgettable.






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