How do

Animal Diseases

affect humans?

75% of infectious diseases
that affect humans
have their origin in
animals, research shows.

Preventing the transmission of
animal diseases saves lives.
It also saves money.

Diseases transmitted between
animals and humans are called
zoonoses. They can be caused by
agents such as viruses, bacteria,
parasites, and fungi.

Infection through food

Many food safety risks are
invisible: for example bacteria,
fungi and viruses in food.
Food-borne zoonoses are
caused by consuming
contaminated food or water.

In the EU, about
human cases are reported
each year. The severity
varies from mild symptoms
to life-threatening

What are the most common micro-organisms
causing food-borne diseases in the EU?

Eating undercooked chicken, or
ready-to-eat foods that have been
in contact with raw chicken, is the
most common source of infection.

Risk of infection in humans is
associated with the consumption
of contaminated food, mainly eggs
and pig meat and, to a lesser extent,
poultry meat.

Listeria monocytogenes
is mostly found in ready-to-eat
fish (like smoked fish) and meat
products (such as sliced ham).

Transmission via contact with live animals

These kinds of zoonoses
are transmitted through
direct or indirect contact
with animals.

Influenza viruses circulating in
animals can in rare cases cross
the species barrier and infect
humans. Avian influenza is one
example of a viral disease carried
by poultry.

One of the most well known
zoonoses in the world is
rabies, transmitted to humans
through close contacts with
saliva from infected animals.

Common bugs that can
be picked up from
petting farms are
Cryptosporidium and E. coli.
This happens either
through touching the
animals or places that
have been contaminated
by animal droppings.

Bites from insects and ticks

This type of zoonosis is transmitted by vectors.
Vectors are living organisms - such as mosqui-
toes, ticks, flies or fleas - that transmit a disease
from an infected animal to a human or another

Many of the diseases that
vectors transmit are considered
emerging infectious diseases.
These are diseases that appear
for the first time, or are rapidly
increasing in incidence or
geographic range.

View infographic: what are vector-borne diseases?

What diseases are spread this way?

West Nile virus is most
commonly transmitted to
humans by mosquitoes.

Lyme disease is transmitted
to humans by ticks.

Leishmaniosis is caused
by the bite of sandflies.

How can I protect myself and my family?

Reduce your risk

Always wash
hands and follow
proper hygiene.

Handle food safely.
Prevent bacteria
spreading by using
different utensils
for raw meat and
other foods.

Prevent bites
from mosquitoes
and ticks

Know the simple things
you can do to stay safe
around your pets

EFSA Website

Only through a "One Health"
approach, which treats
human and animal health
as all part of the same system,
can these diseases be prevented.
Integrated surveillance by
EFSA and its partners helps
stop existing and new
diseases causing deadly
global pandemics. Sign up to the EFSA
highlights newsletter

"Committed to ensuring that
Europe's food is safe"