California residents may be surprised to learn that 60 percent of the infectious diseases that affect humans originated in animals. Three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases are also zoonotic. Most people are aware of the dangers of zoonotic conditions such as rabies, but there are a number of other conditions that can be contracted by contact with wild animals or pets.
It may come as a surprise to learn that doctors in Florida have linked nine cases of leprosy in humans to armadillos. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is another potentially deadly but rare condition spread by animals, and humans do not even need to have direct contact with the disease's rodent carriers. Sufferers usually contract the disease after inhaling dust thrown up when rodent droppings are disturbed or placing their fingers in their mouths after touching rodent nesting materials or droppings.