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Rev Environ Health. 2001 Apr-Jun;16(2):117-31.

Direct exposure to animal enteric pathogens.

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  • 1Department of Soil, Water & Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721, USA.


Humans have very close interactions with working, food-producing, and companion animals. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are more than one hundred million cat and dog pets in the United States. Furthermore, non-traditional pets like reptiles and exotic birds are not unusual companion animals in households. In addition to sharing with animals our living and/or working space and time, we also share, unfortunately, many disease causing microorganisms. In the past few years, we have become aware that several enteric pathogens that were thought to be mostly restricted to animals are a major cause of human disease. Examples of such pathogens include the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum and bacteria such as Campylobacter spp. This review will examine the characteristics of zoonotic enteric pathogens including bacterial (Helicobacter spp., Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., and verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli); parasitic (Toxoplasma gondii, Giardia spp., Cryptosporidium spp.); and viral (rotavirus, norwalk-like virus, hepatitis E virus), and the status of our knowledge with regard to the impact of such pathogens on human health.

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