What is a zoonosis?
The term zoonosis covers all infectious diseases that cause transmission between animals and humans.
In this case, the animals form the pathogen reservoir, while in most cases the human being is the final member of this infection chain. Among the most common zoonoses in Central Europe are salmonella enteritis, anthrax, brucellosis, leptospirosis, Q fever, yersiniosis and listeriosis.
More than 200 zoonoses are known worldwide. In particular, factory farming, which is common in high-tech countries, has promoted the proliferation of many zoonoses.
Zoonosis can be caused by viruses (bird flu, rabies), bacteria (salmonellosis, Lyme disease), fungi (trichophytosis), protozoa (toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis) or worms (diphyllobothriasis, dirofilariosis).
The possible transmission paths are manifold. For example, zoonosis can occur through direct contact with infected animals, through animal foods such as milk, meat or eggs, and through pathogens known as vectors. These vectors do not cause the disease itself and do not get it. A common example of such vectors are, for example, ticks that transmit the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
When the tick stings people, the TBE viruses are transmitted to humans. However, the prick itself is not the cause of the disease. That's why not everyone gets FMSE stung by a tick.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
A zoonosis can strike anyone. Often, people with a previous illness are afflicted with severe symptoms. A disease can lead to life-threatening complications. Meningitis and others are possible. The signs are not clear depending on the severity. Most of the time the skin is affected or there are symptoms that are reminiscent of flu.
Skin redness is widespread. These occur alone or are associated with headache and fatigue. Nausea and diarrhea also occur. The most common zoonosis is toxoplasmosis. It leads to illness for several weeks before subsequently recovering without any medical help.
It is characterized by feverish conditions and swollen lymph nodes. The internal organs are sometimes attacked in a zoonosis. If there is a transmission via food, the gastrointestinal tract is affected. Patients complain of fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Many people are infected with Salmonella. It causes a classic bowel disease. In some cases, such as Lyme disease, joint and limb pain also occur. In severe diseases problems arise in the heart, liver and spleen. Sometimes symptoms can be seen on the nervous system.
Diagnosis & History
A detailed discussion of the disease history is crucial for the diagnosis of zoonosis. This conversation is followed by a physical examination and possibly a blood test. The use of further diagnostic options depends on the type of suspected zoonosis. Depending on the symptoms are for the detection of the responsible for the zoonotic pathogen z. B. blood cultures, stool samples, bone marrow, samples from abscesses and lymph nodes.
The complications of a zoonotic disease depend on the type of infection, the course of the disease and other factors. In principle, viral diseases are associated with general symptoms such as fever, which can be life-threatening in the absence of treatment. Thus, untreated avian influenza often leads to severe pneumonia, while rabies can cause meningitis.
Almost always a zoonosis is associated with redness and concomitant symptoms such as itching or bleeding. Also, a blood poisoning can occur in the context of a disease transmission from animal to human. The details of the symptoms depend on how severe the infection is and how quickly it is treated. Early treatment can usually prevent serious complications, but rabies or avian flu are always followed by symptoms and sometimes late effects.
In zoonosis therapy, the risks are mainly due to the prescribed drugs. Antibiotics occasionally cause headache, muscle and joint pain, gastrointestinal discomfort or skin irritation, and prolonged ingestion also permanent damage to the internal organs is possible. In symptomatic treatment, the complications depend on the drug prescribed.
When should you go to the doctor?
In case of deterioration in general health, a doctor should always be consulted. In particular, people with pre-existing conditions or a weakened immune system should seek the support and assistance of a health care provider as soon as they perceive impairments to their well-being. In particular, with them should be traded as soon as possible in changes. A diffuse sense of illness, fatigue or fatigue are already among the symptoms that should be investigated. Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea are also causes for concern. Disorders of sleep, increased body temperature and abdominal pain should be presented to a doctor. If these irregularities persist for several days or if they increase in intensity and extent, consult a doctor immediately.
Swelling of the lymph nodes, irregularities of the gastrointestinal tract or disorders of the heart rhythm must be medically treated. In the case of a serious illness, a zoonosis can lead to the premature death of the person affected. Therefore, especially at-risk patients are asked to discuss changes in their health with a doctor. If there is headache, an inner restlessness or joint pain, there is a need for action. Cognitive changes and behavioral problems should also be presented to a doctor. Loss of appetite or loss of body weight are among the ailments that require medical attention. Otherwise, there may be a shortage of the organism and secondary diseases.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of zoonosis also depends on their type. In the case of bacterial zoonoses, the treatment is normally carried out by administering suitable antibiotics. This is usually prescribed for several weeks, even longer with affected organs.
As a rule, an effective antibiotic is determined by laboratory techniques. For most digestive tract infections, therapy is symptomatic only by compensating for fluid and salt losses.
In these cases, antibiotics are, with some exceptions (meningitis, septicemia, permanent excretion, babies) not appropriate because they shorten the course of the disease, but prolong the germination.
Since a zoonosis can be based on many causes, there are no general measures for prevention. Good hygiene is generally an important protection against infectious diseases of any kind. Regular and thorough washing of the hands with hot water and soap can avoid many infections.
Hygienic storage and food preparation are also important preventative measures. Some zoonoses, such as tinnitus or toxoplasmosis, help to heat or freeze the food. Prions, the z. However, they are very resistant and can not be killed by such means. Some zoonotic agents can be cured by disinfecting. These include, for example, influenza viruses.
In most cases, infection with zoonosis occurs via food. However, caution should be exercised when detecting a zoonotic condition in a pet. It is best to check with the veterinarian in which form a transmission of the pathogen can take place and how long the animal is contagious. Thorough hand washing is essential after contact with a zoonotic infected animal. Cages, litter boxes, etc. must be cleaned daily in a zoonotic animal.
In general, when dealing with pets and livestock on a species-appropriate, hygienic attitude. Lice, ticks and mites should be removed as soon as possible and worm-susceptible animals should be dewormed regularly. In addition, some infections with a zoonosis can be prevented by appropriate vaccinations.
Many people become infected with a zoonosis while traveling. It is therefore advisable to obtain accurate information about the destination in advance and to take appropriate protective measures in the form of vaccinations or emergency medications.
Depending on how severe the symptoms were pronounced, the body is very weakened by a suffered zoonosis. Therefore, anything that helps the patient to regenerate is recommended in the aftercare. This includes first and foremost a healthy lifestyle. Especially in the aftercare time long walks in the fresh air and other physical activities are indicated.
They get the patient's circulation going, but at the same time they do not overwhelm him. Of course, the patient should not burden his immune system unnecessarily. Long disco evenings, smoking or excessive alcohol consumption is therefore not recommended. Instead, it is advisable to have a controlled sleep and wake rhythm with fixed resting and standing times.
Even a healthy diet is part of the aftercare. Too fat and too high calorie food unnecessarily stresses the body. Light, freshly cooked meals made from organically grown foods are recommended. The diet should contain many vitamins, minerals and fiber. Two liters of water per day are recommended to relieve the liver and kidneys of the patient and flush out possible toxins.
If the patient has taken an antibiotic to treat his zoonosis, it could have caused damage to the intestinal flora. Because a large part of the human immune cells are in the intestine, probiotics are indicated in this case. A naturopathic doctor or alternative practitioner may recommend appropriate products.
You can do that yourself
The treatment of a zoonosis belongs in any case in medical hands. Depending on what type of zoonosis the patient suffers from, therapy may be lengthy and difficult. Good compliance is important now: especially if antibiotics have been prescribed, the patient must strictly adhere to the recommended dose and duration of treatment. At the same time, the patient can also be aware of possible unwanted side effects of antibiotic therapy, such as fungal infections on the skin. The faster they are discovered, the faster they can be treated and eliminated.
A zoonosis and its treatment can weaken the body very much. Therefore, during the period of illness and convalescence, patients should be careful to actively support the healing process by not adding additional toxins (alcohol, nicotine, exhaust fumes, drugs, etc.) to the body while allowing themselves sufficient rest periods, A healthy diet also has a positive impact on recovery. A lot of exercise in the fresh air additionally activates the immune system.
Future sources of infection for a zoonotic disease should be eliminated if possible. This includes the hygienic preparation of impeccable food as well as the regular deworming of your own pets and the protection against ticks outdoors. Especially during a walk in the woods, long trousers and the use of a repellent to protect against ticks are recommended, especially in Germany's TBE risk areas.