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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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List of Terms: X-Y-Z

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About three-fourths of the important known zoonoses are associated with domesticated animals, including pets.


> Xerophilic 
The ability of an organism to survive under dry conditions.


> Yersinia enterocolitica
This pathogen causes yersiniosis, a disease characterized by diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Yersinia enterocolitica
Yersinia enterocolitica

Sources: Raw meat and seafood, dairy products, produce, and untreated water.


Incubation: 1 to 2 days after eating contaminated food.

Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, which may be particularly severe for children.

Duration: 1 to 2 days.

> Zoonoses (plural) or Zoonosis (singular) 
Infections in animals that can be transmitted to humans.

Food Safety Implication: Animal diseases remain a concern principally because of the economic losses they cause and the possible transmission of disease-causing organisms to humans. The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates the feed that animals eat to ensure that it does not harbor zoonotic pathogens that can be transmitted to people. (Also see Center for Veterinary Medicine.)

How Animal Diseases Can Be Transferred to Humans:

  •  Human Consumption of Raw or Undercooked Meat, Poultry, or Seafood - For example, if meat contains a harmful pathogen, and it is not thoroughly cooked to kill the pathogen, foodborne illness/disease may result once the food is eaten.
  •  Humans Being Bitten or Stung by an Insect or Animal - For example, dog bites may seriously injure tissues and can also transmit bacterial infections and rabies, a disease of viral origin. The bite of a diseased rat may transmit any of several diseases to man, including plague, salmonellosis, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fevers; the bites of venomous snakes and fish can lead to human discomfort and death.
  •  Human Contact with the Flesh of an Animal - The flesh of various types of fish is toxic to man. For example, Japanese puffers contain the poisonous chemical compound tetrodotoxin; scombroid fish harbor Proteus morganii, which causes gastrointestinal diseases; and mullet and surmullet can cause nervous disturbances.

Some Examples of Zoonotic Diseases:

  • Anthrax - from ruminants, horses, and swine.
  • Brucellosis - from domestic livestock.
  • Psittacosis - from birds of the parrot family.
  • Rabies - from small mammals, such as dogs, foxes, bats, and rodents.
  • Tularemia - from rabbits and wild rodents.