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Zoonotic Diseases

Blue salmonella cells.

Prioritizing and preventing global health threats

For thousands of years, pathogens originating from animal reservoirs have been responsible for numerous outbreaks among humans. These diseases, known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses, are estimated to make up more than 60% of known infectious diseases. Within the last century, we have seen an alarming number of new zoonoses emerge that have resulted in globally devastating outbreaks such as Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Zika fever, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These and other zoonotic diseases have had a disastrous impact on public health and the economy, resulting in high morbidity and mortality rates in human and animal populations; strain on healthcare resources and high medical costs; disruptions in trade, transportation, and manufacturing; unemployment; and labor shortages.

The frequency of zoonotic disease transmission has been increasing over time—it is believed that as many as 3 out of every 4 new diseases in humans come from an animal source. It is therefore inevitable that we will continue to see emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases in the future. At ATCC, it is our mission to support global health by providing researchers with the resources needed to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. As in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will partner with the global research community to acquire, authenticate, maintain, and distribute the clinically relevant pathogens needed to respond to emerging zoonotic diseases.

See our products for zoonotic disease research

Resources for zoonotic diseases of concern in the United States

3D illustration of SARS-CoV-2

Resources for SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics

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How are zoonotic pathogens transmitted from animals to humans?

Zoonotic pathogens are able to spread to humans through any circumstances involving contact with or consumption of animals or animal products. These transmission pathways can be affected by a variety of drivers such as international travel, changes in the agricultural and food industries, urbanization and destruction of natural habitats, or climate change. 

  • Direct contact – Coming into contact with the bodily fluids (eg, saliva, blood, urine, feces, mucous, respiratory aerosols) from an infected animal. Examples include animal scratches or bites and the handling of domestic and agricultural animals.
  • Indirect contact – Coming into contact with inanimate objects or surfaces that have been contaminated. Examples include bedding, brushes, obstetrical equipment, food and water dishes, and barns.
  • Vector-borne – Being bitten by a hematophagous arthropod (eg, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks) that previously acquired a pathogen from an infected animal.
  • Ingestion – Consuming contaminated food or water. This can occur if animal products such as meat or milk are not cooked or pasteurized properly before consumption or if raw fruits and vegetables are contaminated with fecal matter.

Learning from Zika: Preparing for the Next Outbreak

Zoonotic disease research materials

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