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Diseases from animals

This page includes information about animal diseases including Hendra virus, influenza, Q fever, Leptospirosis, Hydatid disease, Psittacosis, Toxoplasmosis, and information about Australian bat lyssavirus and handling bats.

Australian bat lyssavirus and handling bats

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) is closely related to the rabies virus and is fatal. Only vaccinated people who have been trained in the care of bats should handle them. Infection is serious.

Hendra virus

Hendra virus is a sporadic disease of horses that can cause very serious illness in horses and humans. The natural hosts of Hendra virus are flying foxes. Human infection results from close contact with infected horses and their blood, body fluids and tissues.

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Japanese encephalitis virus

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is spread by mosquito bites. Most people infected have no symptoms or mild fevers and headaches. Mosquitos get infected by biting an infectious animal (such as pigs or water birds) and then they carry it to the next creature they bite.

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Leptospirosis (or Weils Disease) is an infectious zoonotic disease caused by bacteria and spread in the urine of infected animals (wild anddomestic) and in water and soil contaminated with infected urine. Leptospirosis is a notifiable disease.

Petting zoos

Contact with animals at petting zoos can spread infection to workers and visitors. Some people, such as infants and young children, are especially vulnerable to infection and serious illness can occasionally occur. Good hygiene practices, including hand washing, are important to manage infection risks. Read the managing infection risks at petting zoo guideline (PDF, 0.37 MB)


Psittacosis is an infectious disease that is spread from birds to people. Birds of the parrot family are the most common source of human infection but other birds such as poultry and pigeons can also spread infection.

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Q fever

Q fever is an infectious disease that is spread from animals to people. It is caused by bacteria called Coxiella burnetii. Cattle, sheep and goats are the most common source of human infection, but other animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots, camels, dogs and cats can also cause infection.

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Work with bird and bat droppings

If accumulations of dried bird and bat droppings are disturbed it can expose workers to potentially serious, infectious diseases.

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Hydatid disease

This disease is caused by infection with a small tapeworm parasite Echinococcus granulosus. People become infected by eating eggs of this parasite, usually when there is hand-to-mouth transfer of eggs in dog faeces.


Toxoplasmosis occurs worldwide and is found in mammals, especially cats and birds. Infection in humans is common, caused by a parasite called Toxoplasmosis gondii which is usually found in cats and other mammals and birds.