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Zoonotic Diseases: Pigs

Brucellosis: B. suis is the species of Brucella that infects swine and B. canis infects dogs. Transmission to humans has resulted from contact with aborted tissues and placentas from infected animals. Symptoms in humans are fever, headache, chills, myalgia, nausea, and weight loss.

Prevention: Preventive measures include testing and eliminating infected animals from research facilities. Persons working with potential or known positive animals should practice good personnel hygiene to include hand washing after handling animals. Protective clothing should also be worn.

Cryptosporidia: Cryptosporidium species have a worldwide distribution and can be found in many animal species including cats. Cryptosporidiosis is caused by protozoan parasites that live in the intestines of mammals. Cryptosporidiosis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route and can cause diarrhea in humans. Usually the diarrhea is self-limiting but in immunocompromised individuals the disease can have a prolonged course.

Prevention: Appropriate personal-hygiene practices which include washing hands after contact with animals or their waste should prevent spread of this organism.

Balantidium coli: The protozoan, B. coli., is common in domestic swine. Swine are considered reservoir for human infection. Transmission is by the fecal-oral route and in humans can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Prevention: Good sanitation and personnel-hygiene practices will help to eliminate the transmission of this parasite in laboratory animal facilities.

Campylobacter: Campylobacter species can be found in pet and laboratory animal species. Transmission to humans is by the fecal-oral route and can produce an acute enteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Prevention: Use of personal protective clothing, good personal hygiene, and sanitation measures will help to prevent the transmission of the disease.

Salmonellosis: Along with a variety of other species, Salmonella, and other enteric bacteria are capable of causing disease in humans. Salmonellae are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Infection produces an acute enterocolitis and fever with possible secondary complications such as septicemia.

Prevention: Use of protective clothing, personal hygiene which include hand washing after contact with animals or their waste, and sanitation measures prevent the transmission of the disease.

Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. The possibility of transmission to humans from most animal species maintained in the laboratory should be considered but livestock and dogs would be the most common reservoirs. Transmission of the organism to humans can occur through skin abrasions and mucous membranes by contact with urine or tissues of animals infected with Leptospirosis. Inhalation or ingestion of organisms can also transmit the diseases. Disease can vary from asymptomatic infection to severe disease ranging from flu-like symptoms to liver and kidney failure, encephalitis, and pulmonary involvement.

Prevention: Control of this infection in laboratory animal populations along with use of protective clothing and gloves by persons working with and caring for infected animals will help prevent disease.

Rabies: The incidence of rabies in wildlife in the United States has increased in recent years and there is a possibility of transmission to dogs and cats with uncertain vaccination history. Rabies is very rare in the laboratory environment but any random source animal or wild animal showing central nervous system signs must be considered a potentially rabid animal. The rabies virus is most commonly transmitted to other animals or humans by the bite of a rabid animal or by introduction of saliva containing the virus into skin wounds or intact mucous membranes. Rabies produces a fatal acute viral encephalomyelitis.

Prevention: Pre-exposure immunization should be available to personnel working with or caring for animals of uncertain vaccination status or those who work with wildlife known to be reservoirs of rabies.

Influenza: Humans are the reservoir for the human-influenza virus but animal reservoirs are thought to contribute to the emergence of new human strains. Animal specific antigenic strains of influenza occur naturally in avian species, swine, horses, mink and seals and may contribute to new human strains. Transmission is air-borne or by direct contact but the transmission of animal strains of influenza to humans is rare. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and rhinitis. Pneumonia along with vomiting and diarrhea can also develop.

Prevention: Good hygiene and sanitation measures will help to prevent the transmission of the disease.


Risk assessment- UC Davis

Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals, National Research Council; National Academy Press, 1997.

Center for Disease Control- Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases

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