6 in 10 Infectious Diseases in Humans Are Zoonotic; CDC Report Lists Top US Threats


Plague. West Nile Virus. Zoonotic influenza. What else made the CDC list of the top 8 zoonotic diseases of most concern in the US?

Six in 10 infectious diseases in people are zoonotic, a first-ever report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its US government partners announced this week, along with a list of the top 8 diseases shared between animals and people of most concern in the United States.

The report, which prioritizes zoonotic diseases based on feedback from December 2017’s One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization Workshop for the United States workshop, was compiled by the CDC, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the US Department of the Interior (DOI).

“Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick from diseases spread between animals and people. CDC’s One Health Office is collaborating with DOI, USDA, and other partners across the government to bring together disease detectives, laboratorians, physicians, and veterinarians to prevent those illnesses and protect the health of people, animals, and our environment,” Casey Barton Behravesh, MS, DVM, DrPH, director of the CDC’s One Health Office, said in a press release.

According to the report, the top 8 zoonotic diseases of most concern in the US are:

  • Zoonotic influenza (zoonotic influenza A viruses)
  • Salmonellosis (Salmonella species)
  • West Nile virus (Flaviviridae, Flavivirus)
  • Plague (Yersinia pestis)
  • Emerging coronaviruses (eg., severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome)
  • Rabies (Rhabdoviridae, Lyssavirus)
  • Brucellosis (Brucella species)
  • Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)

“The top priority for preventing zoonotic diseases already circulating in the US will be to inform people in contact with animals (occasional, [such as] visitors zoo or natural parks; pet owners; professional, etc.) about the zoonotic risks,” Jean-Paul J. Gonzalez, MD, PhD, deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University and Contagion® Editorial Advisory Board member, said in an interview.

Next steps will revolve around increasing and leveraging leadership engagement; developing a national One Health framework; creating a formalized One Health coordination mechanism at the federal level; and improving knowledge and data sharing for laboratory, surveillance, and response activities.

The One Health approach “recognizes the connection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment and calls for experts in human, animal, and environmental health to work together to achieve the best health outcomes for all,” according to the CDC.

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