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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Zoonotic Disease Program

Zoonotic diseases (also called zoonoses) are infectious diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. There are many zoonotic diseases, and their threat to human health is growing due to increasing global movement of people and animals and the effects of human populations expanding into previously undeveloped wildlife habitats.  Climatic change may also lead to greater zoonotic diseases threats.

Some zoonotic diseases are transmitted directly from animals to people, some result from contamination of the environment by animals, and others require a vector such a tick or mosquito.  Examples of zoonotic diseases include:

  • Bacterial - Salmonella, E. coli, leptospirosis
  • Viral -  Rabies, avian influenza
  • Fungal - Ringworm, sporotrichosis
  • Parasitic - Toxoplasmosis, larval migrans due to roundworms
  • Vector-borne
    • West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes
    • Lyme disease, spread by ticks

Public Health - Seattle & King County's Zoonotic Disease Program provides information for King County residents about prevention and control of zoonotic diseases.  Program staff consult with veterinarians and other medical professionals on potential cases of zoonotic disease in animals; investigate animal cases or outbreaks; provide on-site infection control recommendations for animal exhibits (e.g., fairs, farm tours); conduct active surveillance for zoonotic diseases (e.g., West Nile virus); and provide community-based health education.  The Zoonotic Disease Program is also responsible for licensing, inspecting, and responding to complaints about pet shops, boarding kennels and pet daycare businesses in the city of Seattle and assisting with disease prevention at animal shelters.

The Public Health Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization Section is responsible for control and prevention of communicable diseases, including zoonotic diseases, in humans in King County.

One Health Initiative: The One Health concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. Recognizing that human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are inseparably linked, One Health seeks to promote, improve, and defend the health and well-being of all species. It works to enhance communication and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, and other scientific health and environmental professionals. Goals of One Health include accelerating biomedical research discoveries, enhancing public health efficacy, expanding the scientific knowledge base, and improving medical education and clinical care. Watch a quick, introductory video on the One Health concept.

Zoonotic and vector-borne diseases from A to Z

General information:
Permitting for pet and animal-related businesses in Seattle and King County
Arthropods that can carry and spread diseases to people
Animal disposal information
Persons at higher risk (immunocompromised) of getting zoonotic diseases
Brochures and other publications
Licensing agencies and animal shelters in King County

Resources for veterinarians:
Zoonotic disease reference manual for veterinary practitioners
Rabies information and resources
Canine leptospirosis in King County (PDF)
Leptospirosis case report form (PDF)
Giardia and animals fact sheet (PDF)
Compendia and recommendations, National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV)
WA State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
Zoonotic Disease Program, WA State Dept. of Health
Animal Health Program, WA State Dept. of Agriculture

Bats and rabies Pets, bats and rabies:
Bats and rabies
Learn about rabies, how it's transmitted and how to capture a bat
Testing bats for rabies in King County

Assistance with capturing a bat:
Directory of Nuisance Wildlife Control Officers
Within the city of Seattle contact Seattle Animal Shelter, 206-386-4262
In King County outside Seattle, contact Regional Animal Services of King County, 206-296-7387

Zoonotic diseases in the news:

March 20, 2015
Rat raised to feed family's snakes fatally bit baby, CBS News

Contact us

Environmental Health Services
Zoonotic Disease Program
401 5th Ave, Suite 1100
Seattle, WA 98104

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