Paul G. Allen School for Global Health
Zoonotic Disease
Conducting ongoing research on some of the world’s most serious bacterial, parasitic, and viral zoonotic diseases

Zoonotic Disease

Infections transmitted from animals to humans account for more than 70% of human infectious diseases — and strike hardest in less developed countries. Researchers in the Allen School study a broad range of zoonotic diseases from the intracellular behavior of pathogens to the development of vaccines and diagnostic techniques in developing countries.

What are zoonotic diseases?

Zoonotic diseases are transmitted from animals to humans and can be spread through:

  • Vectors, such as tick, mosquito, flea, and deer fly bites 
  • Eating or drinking animal products, such as milk, from cattle, sheep, and goats 
  • Contact with an infected animal or where animals live
  • Drinking water infected

Research areas

Our scientists are conducting ongoing research on some of the world’s most serious bacterial, parasitic, and viral zoonotic diseases.

  • Anaplasmosis – Bacterial disease transmitted to humans by ticks
  • Brucellosis – Infectious disease that affects livestock and may be transmitted to humans
  • Bubonic plague – Infection spread to humans by infected fleas that travel on rodents
  • Chagas disease – Inflammatory, infectious disease caused by a parasite
  • Coronavirus – Zoonotic respiratory and enteric viruses that include human pathogens SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV
  • H5N8 influenza – Highly contagious disease of poultry that continues to spread across the globe in bird populations
  • Lyme disease – Common tick-borne illness transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick
  • Q fever – Disease caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii that can be transmitted to humans by animals, most commonly sheep, goats, and cattle
  • Salmonella – Common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract
  • Trachoma – Leading cause of preventable blindness
  • Tularemia – Rare infectious disease that attacks the skin, eyes, lymph nodes, and lungs
  • Zika – Virus transmitted by mosquitoes that can cause pregnancy complications in humans


Epidemiology research is used to understand the frequency and causes of disease in populations around the world. Results for this work can be used to help control the transmission of disease that affect human and animal health.


By collaborating with mathematicians, economists, and political scientists, Allen School faculty are able to understand the impact of disease in rural communities in Africa and Central America.

Vaccine development

We are working to develop vaccines against some of the most debilitating animal pathogens. Through our international network, we can put lifesaving discoveries into action, targeting major infectious diseases of animals that directly affect human health and economic development.

Zoonotic disease news

Zoonotic disease in the news