Zoonotic Diseases

What is a zoonotic disease?

Zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) are caused by infections shared between animals and humans.

What are some common zoonotic diseases?

There are over 200 zoonotic diseases. Some of the most common include:

Why are zoonotic diseases important?

They can cause severe illness in humans and animals. Many could be used as a bioterrorism agent such as:

  • Anthrax
  • Plague
  • Tularemia

How are they transmitted?

Zoonotic diseases can be caused by a variety of ways. The most common are:

Respiratory or inhalation

  • Anthrax
  • Hantavirus
  • Psittacosis


  • West Nile Virus
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Direct Contact

  • Monkey pox
  • Plague
  • Q Fever
  • Rabies

Food or Water

  • E-coli 0157:H7
  • Salmonella
  • Trichinosis
  • Giardiasis

How can zoonotic diseases be prevented or controlled?

Wash hands often, especially when:

  • Preparing food
  • Using the restroom
  • Handling pets or other animals
  • Cleaning up pet waste
  • Routinely clean and disinfect areas accessed by pets
  • Handle and prepare foods safely
  • Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes

Avoid contact with wild animals such as:

  • Reptiles (turtles and lizards)
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Do not keep exotic animals such as lizards, prairie dogs as pets

If you find a dead animal:

  • Wear rubber gloves when disposing of them
  • Wrap the dead animal in double plastic bag when disposing

What are some signs that people should look for and report?

  • Abortions
  • Rodent die-offs
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Skin nodules or pox-like lesions
  • Nasal discharge or respiratory symptoms
  • Clusters of unusual, severe or unexplained illnesses or sudden deaths
  • Similar illnesses or deaths among different species

Be Alert for the Unusual!

Who should I report suspicious signs to?

  • Your local health department
  • Your local veterinarian
  • N.D. State Veterinarian 
    • Telephone: 701.355.1540
  • N.D. Department of Health – Division of Disease Control
    • Telephone: 701.328.2378
    • Toll Free: 800.472.2180
    • After hours or during an emergency call: 800.472-2121

Where can I find more information about zoonotic diseases?

  1. Crystalynn Kuntz

    Emergency Preparedness Regional Coordinator

  2. Kalen Ost

    Emergency Preparedness Information Specialist

  3. Public Health

    Physical Address
    500 E. Front Ave.
    Bismarck, ND 58504


    Mailing Address
    P.O. Box 5503
    Bismarck, ND 58504

    Phone: 701-355-1540
    Fax: 701-221-6883