A zoonosis is an infection that is naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans. In the last chapter, a group of infections that were mainly zoonoses, but also involved a vector were covered, while this chapter includes infections in which a vector is not involved. Most of these infections are due to the close association humans have with their domestic animals, but there are also some zoonoses in which animals that live close to humans, but are not welcomed, such as rats, are involved in the transmission of disease. These are called synanthropic zoonoses. Some zoonotic infections have been covered in earlier chapters where the means of transmission and control are similar to other allied conditions, for example, the pork and beef tapeworms will be found in Section 9.8 under food-borne diseases.
The most important source of infection from which humans suffer is from other humans, but the animals on which people depend for their livelihood and companionship are responsible for many others. Paramount amongst these is the dog, which is involved directly in a number of diseases, or is a reservoir for many others (Table 17.1). Less important, except to people who have close association with them are cats, cattle and other domestic animals. The principal synanthropic vector is the rat, already covered in some detail in the section on plague (Section 16.1), but also involved in several other infections mentioned in this chapter. Control depends upon an understanding of the contact with the animal and how best to reduce it.
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