According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75% of emerging infectious diseases of people are zoonotic, or originated with animals. Besides their effects on animals, those diseases can pose a health risk to farm workers through animal contact, and potentially to the public overall, either through contact with animals or disease vectors such as mosquitos or ticks, or through contaminated food. And anyone who remembers the BSE scare in 2003 knows the damage even the slightest health risk can inflict on our export markets.
The beef industry, so far, has avoided much of the fallout from zoonotic diseases, since the most common, such as zoonotic influenza viruses, have emerged from poultry and pigs. Foot and mouth disease (FMD), probably our top outbreak concern, is not zoonotic, although it is often confused with the human viral disease known as “hand, foot and mouth disease.”
Photo Credit: USDA