Seven animal diseases that are dangerous to public health

Above: Veterinary doctor vaccinating dogs in a community in Western Uganda

Veterinary doctors, also known as Veterinarians or Veterinary surgeons are trained to detect, diagnose, treat, prevent and control diseases in animals. In so doing, they have a duty to prevent the human population from acquiring some diseases that can come from animals. There are many diseases that humans can acquire from animals as a result of the interaction of humans and animals or animal products like meat, milk, eggs, skins, hides and wool. Many of these diseases can exhibit severe sickness that is difficult to treat and most of them lead to death. In this article, I will briefly discuss at least seven diseases or groups of diseases that are essentially diseases of animals but commonly jump into the human population. The list is not in any order and does not imply that the diseases listed are the most important in the category of zoonotic diseases. The role of the Veterinary doctor in preventing these diseases in humans will also be elucidated.

Brucellosis is a tricky bacterial infection in that it is capable of hiding in the body of both humans and animals undetected. It affects cattle, goats, sheep and pigs causing infertility and abortions in female animals. In male animals, it causes inflamed testes and scrotum and may also lead to infertility. The bacteria is different in each of the different species. The disease that affects humans comes from either cattle or goats. These discharge large quantities of the bacteria during abortions. So humans who get in touch with cattle or goats’ after births, aborted fetuses or fluids will contract the infection. It is so dangerous it can enter through intact skin or mucous membranes (eyes, ears, nose or mouth). It is therefore advisable to use gloved hands when handling animals which may be having abortions. Brucellosis can also be ingested in raw or half boiled milk, or raw meat that is not properly cooked or roasted. Once infected it is extremely difficult to treat in humans and it can keep re-occurring even after series of treatment regimes. Farmers, herdsmen, butcher-men, most meat lovers, people who take raw or unpasteurized dairy products and vets are at high risk of getting Brucellosis.

Veterinarians have to vaccinate cattle and goats to prevent the disease in animals, screen animals for brucellosis by testing blood samples, cull those that test positive, and advise on proper handling of animals which abort in order to prevent the disease jumping to human beings.

Also known as African sleeping sickness or nagana in humans, is caused by a blood parasite that is transmitted from animal to animal or from animal to humans by an infected tsetse-fly. Sleeping sickness is 100% fatal in humans if left untreated. It was common in woodland areas of Uganda up to the early 2000s’. Due to the hard work of Veterinarians, it is no longer as common as it used to be. However, it is still prevalent in cattle and wildlife in areas where the tsetse-fly still exists. Most of these areas are wildlife conservation areas.

Veterinarians role is to treat, prevent or control Trypanosomiasis in animals so that the vector, if present does not carry the disease to people. They also trap and kill the vectors in places where they exist. In Uganda, Veterinary doctors from the ministry of agriculture and other stakeholders like Makerere university have continually researched and developed strategies to eliminate the tsetse-fly in Uganda in woodland areas where the disease persists. Due to this work, Uganda reports less than 100 human cases of African sleeping sickness annually. If you are in the market for superclone Replica Rolex , Super Clone Rolex is the place to go! The largest collection of fake Rolex watches online!

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection, common in hospitals especially in AIDS patients. However, there is a type of TB known as Bovine Tuberculosis that is found in cattle and affects people as well. This type of TB is really hard to treat in humans. Humans acquire it when they consume meat from an infected animal. While the animal may not clinically show sickness from this disease except emaciation, humans will be very ill and it can lead to death. Veterinary doctors test cattle and cull positive cases on farms. However, the more important role of the vet is at meat inspection. When an animal is slaughtered for meat, a Veterinary doctor inspects the meat and can condemn any carcass suspected to have TB. Condemned meat is not allowed to enter the food chain. In so doing, transmission to humans is halted at meat inspection.

Viral Hemorrhagic fevers

Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley Fever and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) are some of most dreaded diseases in the world, with a death rate above 90% of victims even with the best hospital care. All of the above fevers can spread from animals to humans. They have sudden symptoms and death in humans occurs quickly.

Ebola and Marburg are transmitted to humans after contact with infected monkeys and other apes, or after contact with their fluids or their meat in areas where they are eaten. Rift Valley Fever is transmitted from cattle, goats, sheep and other ruminants by biting insects like flies and mosquitoes to humans. It also causes abortions in animals and commonly affects farm workers as they tend to assist aborting animals or clean up aborted fetuses and afterbirths. It also normally affects butcher-men as they are in direct contact with the raw meat of carcasses from infected animals. Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is tick-borne viral infection spread to humans from mammals by some species of ticks. Humans can also get infected when they get into contact with infected animal blood or tissues.

Wildlife Veterinarians are responsible for treating, preventing and controlling Ebola and Marburg in monkeys. While domestic Veterinarians prevent the Rift Valley Fever and CCHF in our cattle through vaccinations, proper handling of animals during abortions and early diagnosis and treatment of sick cattle. Veterinarians are at high risk themselves if they do not practice the highest level of biosafety, hence protecting themselves and other people from these killer diseases.


Worms are bloody parasites that can infest any part of your body from the skin to internal organs like the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver and even the brain. People don’t realize how dangerous worms can be in their bodies. There are two types of worms I want to discuss.

The beef tapeworm and the pork tape worm both larva of two different adult tapes worms that can be found in the intestines of human beings. In cattle and pigs, they are found within the muscles (heart, diaphragm and skeletal muscles). When humans eat parts of these infested muscles, they can get the worm, which then develops into adult worms in their intestines.

Humans can also re-infect themselves when they use contaminated hands or eat vegetables contaminated with human feces. The pork tape worm specifically can then migrate to any part of the body including the brain were it causes seizures.

The downside of these in the meat is that the worm larvae are highly resistant to heat. So that meat can be cooked or roasted but they remain alive within the meat. So even people that eat only well cooked meat can get them.

The Veterinary meat inspector is trained to detect the larva of these worms in meat. On inspection, meat that is found to have these larvae is condemned and will not be allowed to enter into the food chain.

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