Skip to content

Zoonotic Disease

Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans. People that live and work around livestock or wildlife are at greater risk of contracting a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases can have serious long-term health implications so it is important to take precautions to minimise the risk of contracting one of these diseases.

How can they be spread?

Direct contact

This includes skin infections such as ringworm and bacterial diseases which can infect humans through entry through cuts, wounds or mucous membranes directly from infected animals or via contaminated sources such as water.
Examples: leptospirosis, Australian Bat Lyssavirus


Inhalation of bacteria dispersed in the air or dust can also cause disease.
Example: Q fever


Ingesting disease agents is another mechanism for contracting disease. This can occur through eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by having the infective agent on your hands before eating.

Insect bites

These can transmit diseases straight into the body or blood steam.
Examples: Ross River fever, Murray Valley Encephalitis.

Simple steps to minimise your risk

  1. Keep livestock healthy and vaccinate them for known zoonotic diseases, such as leptospirosis and hendra
  2. Ensure you and your staff are vaccinated for zoonotic diseases where a vaccine is available and you are at risk of contracting the disease, such as Q-Fever.
  3. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where possible and cover any wounds with water tight dressings. To protect against mosquitoes and other biting insects that can transmit diseases: cover-up with a loose-fitting long sleeved shirt and long pants when outside and apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin.
  4. Disinfect or wash hands regularly – especially before eating or preparing food.
  5. Ensure you and your staff know the signs of common zoonotic diseases, how you can minimise your risk (such as vaccinations) and what to do if you suspect you have contracted one.


Seek urgent medical attention for all suspicious signs of disease – if you live or work with livestock or wildlife you should inform your doctor so they can check for zoonotic diseases. Further information can be found on your state or territory agricultural or government health websites.


Page reviewed: 06/07/2020