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Infectious Diseases

Animal diseases

06/17/2003

Question:

I`ve been hearing a lot about monkeypox in the news, but I don`t understand how diseases jump from animals to humans. How does this happen? Can I catch something from my dog?

Answer:

Diseases that go from animals to humans are very common and are referred to as Zoonoses. It has been known for millennia that this can happen. The most common route is that we eat something and get infected (trichuris, for example) or that we come into contact with an infected animal or flea and the organism enters either through the mucosa or through an open wound. Healthy domestic dogs are unlikely to be a source. Of course, rabies is always a concern. Most of the infections you read about have come from man`s intrusion into otherwise pristine areas or from animals being exposed to other animals that carry an unusual germ. That is the story with the monkeypox. 

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Response by:

George S Deepe, Jr, MD George S Deepe, Jr, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
Director of Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati