What are some diseases goats can transmit to humans?

Goats August 27, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF
Goats can transmit several diseases to humans, including: Leptospirosis — This disease is widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. Transmission of the organism to humans can occur through skin abrasions and mucous membranes by contact with urine or tissues of animals infected with leptospirosis. Inhalation or ingestion of organisms can also transmit the disease. The disease can vary from an asymptomatic infection to severe disease with symptoms ranging from flu-like ailments to liver and kidney failure, encephalitis, and pulmonary involvement. Cryptosporidia — Some species of this disease have a worldwide distribution that can be found in many animal species, including ruminants. Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestines of mammals. Usually the diarrhea is self-limiting, but in immunocompromised individuals, the disease can have a prolonged course. Q fever — This disease is caused by Coxiella burnetii, which is a rickettsial disease of goats and cattle. Humans can be infected by inhalation of infectious particles. The organism is shed in urine, feces, milk, and birth products of domestic sheep, goats, and cattle. Symptoms in humans are usually flu-like. In some cases, more serious symptoms can occur, especially in elderly patients or in immunosuppressed people. Psittacosis (ornithosis, chlamydiosis) — This disease is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. C. psittaci is common in wild birds but can also cause enzootic abortion in sheep, goats, and cattle. Exposure to birth fluids and membranes of infected sheep and goats has been reported to cause gestational psittacosis in pregnant women. Contagious echthyma (orf) — This disease is caused by a pox virus and is endemic in sheep and goat herds in the United States. Orf produces pustular lesions on the lips, nostrils, and mucous membranes of the oral cavity in infected animals. Humans are infected by direct contact with exudates from the lesions or from fomites. The disease in humans is characterized by similar lesions on the hand, arm, or face. Rabies — This disease is very rare in the laboratory environment, but any random source animal or wild animal showing central nervous system signs must be considered a potentially rabid animal. The rabies virus is most commonly transmitted to other animals or humans by the bite of a rabid animal or by introduction of saliva containing the virus into skin wounds or intact mucous membranes. Rabies produces a fatal acute viral encephalomyelitis. Escherichia coli 0157:H7 — E. coli 0157:H7 is a bacterial organism that can be found in the intestines of healthy cows. Meat can become contaminated during slaughter, and milk can be contaminated from bacteria on the cow's udder or on milking equipment. Other sources of infection include eating sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice and swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water. Infected persons often have bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In children under 5 years of age and the elderly, an E. coli 0157:H7 infection may cause hemolytic uremia and resulting kidney failure. Persons with diarrhea can transmit this organism to other people if personal hygiene is inadequate. Salmonellosis — Along with a variety of other species, Salmonella and other enteric bacteria are capable of causing disease in humans. Salmonellae are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Infection produces an acute enterocolitis and fever with possible secondary complications such as septicemia. Ringworm — Dermatophytes, which are fungi, cause ringworm in humans and animals. Infection in animals may not be apparent and is transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected animals or by indirect contact with contaminated equipment or materials. Dermatophytes produce flat, circular lesions that are clear in the center and crusted and red on the periphery.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.