Know these five diseases transmitted by animals

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Illustration by halodoc

Infectious diseases originating from animals or commonly referred to as zoonotic diseases is still a threat in Indonesia. These diseases’ occurences are difficult to predict. Dengue fever often claims dozens of lives in the rainy season. Some areas in Indonesia are also not free of rabies and anthrax, diseases feared by the community.

Acting Deputy for Health Improvement, Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture (Kemenko PMK), Tb A Choesni, said that the Indonesian government had determined five priority diseases with potential outbreaks, rabies, avian influenza, leptospirosis, brucellosis and anthrax. (source: detikHealth). Therefore, let us know more about the five diseases.


Rabies or also known as rabid dog disease is a viral infection in the brain and nervous system. The disease is very dangerous because it has a great potential to cause death. The cause of rabies is a virus called RNA from the genus Lyssavirus, family Rhabdoviridae, which is a bullet shaped virus that is neurotropic, infectious and malignant. The virus is lodged in the saliva of animals that have been infected. Infected animals can spread the virus by biting other animals or humans. In general, the rabies virus is found in wild animals. Some wild animals that spread the virus are skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes. However, in some countries, there are still many pets that apparently carry the virus, including cats and dogs.

Prof. Dr. Suwarno, professor of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FKH) Universitas Airlangga said that humans are vulnerable to rabies as well. Data from the Ministry of Health showed that every year rabies causes around 59,000 deaths.

Bird flu

Bird flu, or also known as avian influenza, is a type of viral infection commonly found in poultry. However, the virus that causes bird flu can mutate and spread to humans. If humans are infected with the bird flu virus, they will show various symptom, ranging from mild to severe and potentially life-threatening. This transmission usually occurs due to contact with birds infected with a virus or the improper cooking process. This disease cannot be transmitted between humans, but experts are concerned that there is possibility for the bird flu virus to mutate again and spread easily between humans.

Since 2003, Indonesia is a country with the highest number of victims due to bird flu outbreaks. The status of extraordinary conditions or outbreaks for bird flu is often determined by the government. This disease cannot be considered trivial because almost 80 percent of infection leads to death.


Quoted from Healthline, leptospirosis is a disease caused by Leptospira interrogans, which is spread through urine or blood of animals. Some types of animals that can be carriers of leptospirosis are dogs, rodents like rats, and farm animals such as cattle or pigs. The most infectious leptospirosis animals in Indonesia during floods are rats. These rodents transmit the disease through urine in flood water.

Leptospirosis usually causes mild flu-like symptoms, such as headache and cold. Sufferers start showing symptoms of infection within 2 weeks, although in some cases, symptoms may appear after a month or even without symptoms at all. However, the symptoms will be more severe if the bacteria infect certain organs such as liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. The worst disease caused by leptospira bacteria is Weil, a type of bacterial infection that causes organ failure leading to death.

According to the Ministry of Health’s data from 2018 to January 2019, in Banten there were 104 cases of leptospirosis with 26 deaths; DKI Jakarta has 11 cases with 2 deaths; West Java, there are 2 cases, without mortality; and DIY there were 186 cases with 16 deaths. Then, in Central Java there were 427 cases of leptospirosis with 89 deaths; East Java there are 128 cases with 10 deaths; North Kalimantan had 3 cases with 2 deaths; and Maluku had 5 cases with 2 deaths.


Brucellosis is a disease that may infect humans and animals, caused by Brucella bacteria. Brucellosis has been found worldwide reaching 500,000 cases. Brucellosis infections in animals generally attack goats, sheep, deer, pigs, cows, dogs and camels because they are not vaccinated and have a dirty environment. Brucellosis in humans generally occurs from direct contact with animals or consuming animal products, contaminated raw meat and unpasteurized milk. Brucella bacteria can also be transmitted from the air and contact with open wounds.

Brucellosis in humans is generally endemic in developing countries such as India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The prevalence of Brucellosis in Malaysia is 25% of the total number of patients seeking treatment at the hospital with complaints of uterine disorders, 75% of the cases leading to termination of pregnancy in women. The prevalence of Brucellosis in Vietnam was 14.8% in 2010.


Bacillus anthracis is a bacterium that causes Anthrax. This bacterium can last for decades. This bacterium is also resistant to heat, cold, drought, and anti-germicidal chemicals. Animals that can be affected by Anthrax include cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes and pigs. This disease is usually transmitted by infected animals, media contaminated with Anthrax bacteria such as soil, water, and food derived from animals affected by the bacteria.

Recognize the symptoms if animals or people around us are affected by anthrax. Symptoms that occur in animals are fever, anxiety, and bleeding from the nose and rectum. If it is very severe, the animal will experience swelling and die suddenly.

In humans, the symptoms are the presence of dark blue blister lumps, inflammatory reactions from wounds, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle and chest pain, and death can occur within 24 hours.

According to Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia data, in 2010-2016 there were 172 cases of anthrax and 97% were skin anthrax and 3% were digestive anthrax. As many as 61% of anthrax sufferers are male and the rest are female. In addition, according to age groups, anthrax attacks to people older than 15 years, which is about 93% of cases.

Choesni also said that to overcome and prevent outbreaks that might occur later, the country must always be vigilant. Therefore, the government through the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture has created an outbreak training and investigation program using the One Health approach in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Author: Alfiansya Noval Siswanto

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Media komunikasi dan informasi seputar kampus Universitas Airlangga (Unair).

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