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10 Deadly Diseases that Jumped Species

Kimberly Love

To be a human being on this planet is a pretty remarkable thing. In fact, from a statistical point of view, scientists have determined that the probability of you existing as you, today, is about one in 400 trillion (4×1014), which in and of itself is remarkable. However, putting statistics aside, finding yourself a living, breathing human on this planet is truly lucky indeed, especially when you compare it other living things on this planet. And as enjoyable as being a human being is (for the most part), we are willing to bet that at one point or another, perhaps as a child or even just yesterday, you have shared in the common thought and wondered what it would be like to be a wild animal.

This can be a fun practice; imagining oneself as a wild animal and shedding all the trappings that come with life as a human. So let me ask you if you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be? For many, this is a tough decision, especially when you consider the thousands upon thousands of living creatures on this planet to choose from.

Maybe you would be a lion; feared and respected by all other animals. Maybe it is the appeal of basking in the sun all day, only expending energy to hunt or tend to your cubs. For others, the appeal of animals is off the land and more in the air. Many people have imagined themselves as eagles; soaring and gliding high above the ground. And some still would rather nothing to do with land or air, rather there preference lies in the ocean depths. Maybe you wish you were a shark, always moving forward, not a natural predator in the world. And as commonplace as it is to imagine ourselves as wild animals, the fact remains that we are worlds apart, and sadly, we will never know what it is like to hunt as a lion, soar like an eagle or swim like a shark.

However, there are some commonalities among humans and wild animals, and among those, and perhaps the most frightening of which, is the fact that both are susceptible to many of the same illnesses, conditions, and diseases.

Known as a zoonosis, it is a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but that can infect humans. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “Zoonotic diseases are very common, both in the United States and around the globe. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from diseases spread between animals and people.”

Animals, both wild and domestic, are a part of our daily lives. From your dog that greets you every morning when you wake up, to the raccoon in your backyard that is always knocking over your trash cans, it is with confidence we say that humans interactions with animals are likely to continue, and it is for that reason we feel that learning about the potential pitfalls is so important. While we are certainly not suggesting you give up your cat, stop going to the zoo, or feeding the birds at the park; what we are saying is that by knowing what to be cautious of, you can not only save yourself a lot of trouble, but you could also be potentially saving your life.

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