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Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic Diseases


“Zoonotic disease” is a term you may have heard on the news in recent weeks. What does it mean and what does it have to do with pest control?

The term “zoonotic disease” refers to any disease that is spread from animals to humans. Some diseases are transferred directly from a sick animal to a human, such as in the case of rabies. Others, like Lyme disease or the bubonic plague, are transmitted from an infected animal to a human via an insect carrier. The insect feeds on the sick animal, picks up the causative agent of the disease (e.g., bacteria, protozoans), and transmits it to a human during a different feeding session. Typically, the insect is completely unaffected by the disease. 

You have probably heard that COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease. These is currently no evidence, however, that insects can transmit the disease. Many, many zoonotic diseases are incapable of being carried by an insect. Examples include Ebola, rabies, and SARS. Instead, humans contract the disease through direct contact with an animal, feces, or animal meat (or other infected human). Conversely, there are many other zoonotic diseases that are vectored by insects and other arthropods, especially mosquitoes and ticks. These diseases serve as a great reminder about the importance of pest control, whether chemical or natural, and pest avoidance.

One of the main goals of our blog posts is to better inform you about pest biology and habits so that you can identify those insects that may pose a threat to your health or your home. In general, household insect pests aren’t disease vectors, but they can certainly transfer bacteria to your food or kitchen surfaces, for example, that can cause minor illness if ingested. Outdoor pests, including some in North Carolina, may be capable of vectoring disease. Ticks in our area may transmit several zoonotic diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and Ehrlichiosis. Mosquitoes in NC may vector West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Don’t let this scare you in any way. We at Innovative Pest Solutions seek to help keep you informed about these pests, as well as assist with management and risk mitigation. If you are concerned about any pests in and around your home, call us today. 

Be sure to read our blog posts for more insect information relevant to North Carolina!