Stating that humans, animals and diseases are more closely linked than ever, veterinarian specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Murat Akbaş gave the following information on diseases transmitted from humans to animals:
TUBERCULOSIS IS TRANSMITTED TO CATS, DOGS, ELEPHANTS
“Cases of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi jumping from humans to animals have been found on every continent except Antarctica.
The three-year-old Yorkshire terrier, who came to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine with anorexia, vomiting and a persistent cough, could not be saved. After a series of tests, including post-mortem, it was concluded that the animal had tuberculosis. The dog’s owner had been on tuberculosis treatment for 6 months. This was the first documented transmission of tuberculosis from a human to a dog.
Cats are also susceptible to tuberculosis, but they most commonly contract bovine tuberculosis or, more rarely, an avian version of the disease.
Dogs aren’t the only animals that can be affected by human-made tuberculosis. An exotic animal farm in Illinois has had a number of documented cases of elephants contracting tuberculosis from humans.
CATS CAN GET FLU FROM PEOPLE
In 2009, a fatal case of human-to-cat transmission of the H1N1 flu virus was recorded in Oregon. The cat’s owner had a severe case of the flu and had to be taken to hospital. Her cat was a house cat who was not in the same environment as other people or animals and later died of pneumonia caused by an H1N1 infection.
In 2011 and 2012, researchers identified more than 13 cats and one dog with pandemic H1N1 infections that appeared to originate from human contact. Interestingly, the animals’ symptoms were similar to those experienced by human carriers, which quickly progressed to respiratory illness, loss of appetite and, in some cases, death.
DEADLY RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN CHIMPANZEES
Gorillas and chimpanzees are perhaps the most susceptible to human disease, thanks to their similar genetic and physiological makeup. They are known to be vulnerable to a number of human diseases including measles, pneumonia, influenza, various viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Due to poaching, habitat loss, wildlife parks, zoos, and wildlife hunting, humans have come closer to primates more often. Therefore, interspecific disease transmission becomes an urgent concern.
In 2003, 2005 and 2006, outbreaks of fatal respiratory diseases occurred in wild chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania. Although measles and influenza were considered, no evidence was found to support them as a cause.
The researchers analyzed stool samples from affected and unaffected individuals and determined that the culprit was human-made metapneumovirus (a virus that causes an infection of the upper respiratory tract).
This population of chimpanzees in decline; be destroyed by a cold transmitted to them by man.
Similarly, an outbreak of human metapneumovirus infection in Chicago in 2009 was spread to a group of captive chimpanzees by caretakers of infected animals. All seven fell ill and one died.
AFRICAN WILD DOGS
African Spotted Wild Dogs are an endangered breed of wild dog. As part of a conservation effort, a study published in 2010 investigated the parasites found in the species’ feces.
Infection with Giardia duodenalis, a parasite that lives in the small intestine, has been found in 26% of wild animals and 62% of animals in captivity.
Although common in domestic cats and dogs, G. duodenalis is not a natural parasite in African spotted dogs. Additionally, the types of parasites found in dog feces were a subtype often associated with humans, rather than the subtype usually seen in domestic dogs.
However, symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort and decreased appetite.
In conclusion, research on human-to-human diseases is an important and urgent field of study, although it is relatively insufficient. If human pathogens can infect other species, and those species can interact with humans and travel long distances, that’s a pandemic waiting in the wings.”