For additional information on zoonotic disease, check out this link to Texas Department of State Health Services
Zoonoses are diseases transmissible from animal to man, generally through direct contact with the animal or its body fluids or waste. With the exception of birds and the educational animals, most TWRC volunteers do not handle wildlife. While this minimizes the volunteer’s risk, it does not eliminate it.
There is a limited risk of transmission for some zoonotic diseases through exposure to the animal’s waste or bodily fluids. It is always important to wash or sanitize your hands after such exposure.
However, if a volunteer or rescuer does handle wildlife and happens to be bitten or scratched, it is important to know:
- What animal bit or scratched them
- When the event occurred
- And report the event to the local authorities
This listing is not all inclusive of zoonotic diseases that you or your pets can be exposed to when coming in contact with wildlife. This list is intended to raise awareness that these risks do exist:
- Rabies: Generally transmitted by direct contact (bite or scratch, or direct exposure to blood or saliva) with rabid wildlife or by contact with domestic animals, which have acquired the infection from rabid wildlife. High-risk animals include skunks, foxes, raccoons, coyote and bats. Low-risk animals include squirrels, rabbits, rats and opossums and other mammals.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF): transmitted by the bite of an infected tick or by the contamination of skin by crushed tick tissue or waste.
- Lyme Disease: transmitted by the bite of an infected tick or flea or by the contamination of skin by crushed tick/flea tissue or waste.
- Psittacosis (Ornithosis Chlamydiosis):transmitted by the bite or scratch of various species of birds especially parrots, parakeets, pigeons and doves.
- Leptospirosis: transmitted to humans by direct contact with an infected animal, its urine, or indirectly via urine contamination of soil, water or food.
- Hanta Virus: transmitted by flea bites or by direct contact with infected animals or their discharges (feces, saliva, and dried urine). High-risk animals include wild rodents found in western states.
- Tularemia: transmitted by the bites of ticks/deerflies and mosquitoes and/or by handling an infected animal. High-risk animals include rabbits, prairie dogs and deer.
- Salmonellosis: transmitted from animal to person through ingestion of contaminated food or water. It is prevalent in the digestive tract of reptiles, especially turtles and iguanas.
- Baylisascaris procyonis “ transmitted through the mishandling of raccoon feces.
- Giardiasis: is a diarrheal illness caused by a one-celled, microscopic parasite. Once an animal or person has been infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in the stool. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time. Signs include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. People become infected when they drink water containing this parasite or by putting something in their mouth that has come into contact with a pet’s stool.