My wife recently started volunteering at an acquarium and small zoo. She has bee in contact with reptiles, amphibians, fish, bearcats, rabbits, bats, birds, their enviorments and their foods. Yesterday I noticed our feline was not well. He has since recovered, but I thought it may have been something brought home from the zoo. I have heard that salmanilla is often found on iguanas and turtles, that true? What about foot and mouth or other type viruses? Its a samll zoo so there are no large animals like elephants which I have been told carry hepititus but I am interested in preventing the preventable. Please advise.
salmonella is commonly found in the waste material of most reptiles and amphibians. The best way to avoid it is to wash one's hands after working around them.
other pathogens are very rare but can be deadly if aquired. the best example is "parrot fever", a virus which is fatal to both birds and humans. This is not "bird flu", but a much more virulent species of virus.
mammals can host a number of contageous virus diseases. rabies is the best known and even herbivores like cattle can aquire it. cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminants can also carry anthrax, a bacterial disease.
"pox" viruses are quite capable of being passed from animals to humans. cammel pox and monkey pox are good examples. cowpox was used as the first vaccine against a human pox virus known as smallpox. dairy maids aquired an immunity after contracting a case of much milder cowpox.
rodents carry hemmoragic fever viruses. these viruses are amoungst some of the most deadly of human virus diseases. the African ebola virus is a member of this family. another species seems to be spread by southwestern deermice. this is a lung infection which can kill its victims within 24 hours of contact.
Bacterial infections are frequently due to foriegn strains of E. coli, a bacterium which inhabits the large intestines of mammals. Some strains of this bacteria are harmful to humans. the 157 strain is responcible for food poisoning. other gut bacteria can cause cholera. hog cholera can be passed to humans, I believe.
besides diseases, there are also paracites. the worst of these appear to be flatworms. these creatures are specialized to reproduce in one host and mature in another entirely different species. molluscs are frequent hosts. the common planobarius aquarium snail is host to the bilhartsia paracite. there are many species of bilhartsia with varying degrees of severity. this organism reproduces in the human liver, causing swelling and bleeding. the adults then pass eggs and the larva infect pond snails. when humans drink infected water, the cycle starts again. fortunately for fish keepers, no aquarium snail is now infected and the chain has been broken. giant African land snails have not been domesticated long enough to break the cycle however, and most are infected with lung paracites which can infect humans. these enormous land snails are great zoo attractions, but now illegal to import because of the risk of disease transmission.
most zoos have highly trained vets to keep their equally highly valuable animals healthy. of course, costs factor much more in small operations, so take this into account.
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