Zoonotic diseases, those transmitted between humans and animals, will be the focus of a program offered during Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review, near London, Ohio.
Armando Hoet, director of the Veterinary Public Health Program within Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine Public Health Program, will discuss the diseases that can move from humans to animals, and vice versa, and how to prevent this transmission, during his presentation, “Can your animals make you sick?” The discussion will be offered at 2 p.m., Sept. 18 and 1:40 p.m., Sept. 19, as part of the daily Question the Authorities series.
Hoet said humans often are portrayed as “victims” when it comes to zoonotic diseases, but in reality, the illnesses can pass either direction.
“The truth is, you are more likely to get an infectious disease from another human than from an animal,” Hoet said. “Plus, we are also an important source of infectious agents to animals, as many of our own infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, and intestinal pathogens, just to name a few, can be passed from humans to animals, making them sick.”
In the past 60 years, more than 70 percent of all newly emerging infectious diseases in humans have originated from animals. Examples of these are avian influenza, SARS, West Nile virus, hantavirus, porcine hepatitis E, and livestock associated MRSA or LA-MRSA.
“It makes sense to cover a topic about the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans with people attending the Farm Science Review, as they work or interact on a daily basis with animals during their routine activities on the farm,” Hoet said.
He will focus his talk on LA-MRSA, which has increased in prevalence in different animal populations around the world and is now being reported among U.S. animals. Staph bacterium are commonly present on the skin, nose and other locations of the human body, and rarely in animals. Staph infections in humans are typically easily treated with common antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin.
However, some groups of Staph have become resistant to all the typical antibiotics used as the first line of defense to treat these infections, Hoet said.
“These MRSA are very difficult and expensive to treat,” he said. “It is very, very important to highlight that MRSA is a primary human pathogen that is now ‘spilling over’ to the animal side, but once animals are infected with MRSA they can pass along such superbugs to other individuals, including humans and animals.”