Zoonotic Diseases. Infection Protection Chapter Eleven (c) Dr. Carol Osborne, D.V.M. Currently, there are over 200 Zoonoses, or animal diseases, transmissible to people that are a significant infectious risk to human health. Effective control of these diseases in animals is paramount to their control and prevention in people. Proactive approaches to health care in the 21st century require closely controlled surveillance systems to detect and monitor disease problems that threaten both human and animal health.
Since outbreaks of certain diseases in animals typically precede outbreaks in people, health department’s routinely use animals as early warning signs or “Disease Sentinels” for certain infectious diseases, including Bubonic Plague, Hanta Virus, Equine Viral Encephalitis, and Rabies. This generally allows time for preventative measures to be taken that will reduce the number and/or severity of human cases.
Medical doctors and veterinarians are required to report certain diseases to local health authorities, which is crucial to effectively controlling and ultimately eliminating these diseases. Infectious diseases that threaten our economic welfare such as Mad Cow Disease, Tuberculosis, and Brucellosis must be reported within 24 hours at which point, strict state and federal guidelines geared to ultimately eradicate these diseases are employed.