Zoonoses and travel: Chapter 4 in Disease emergence and resurgence: The wildlife-human connection

Circular 1285-4

and ORCID iD



The escalating speed of transportation expands the global mobility of society, allows many products and services to be rapidly obtained anywhere in the world, and promotes the explosive growth of tourism (Fig. 4.1). Ecotourism is especially popular. Within a single day’s time, people can travel to rural and remote areas where there are unique and often concentrated collections of wildlife. When traveling to these areas, people can be exposed to pathogens not common in their home location.1–3 Timely and accurate diagnoses of the pathogens involved are often essential to prevent lifethreatening stages of disease from developing. Also, travelers who contract infections can serve to initiate epidemics (e.g., SARS) (Fig. 4.2). This chapter focuses on travel as a factor in exposure to zoonoses and other factors potentially confounding diagnoses.

Infections that travelers can obtain while far from home can complicate timely diagnoses. Travelers may also unknowingly bring home exotic pathogens through foods and other products. When local medical practitioners are taking a medical history, they may forget to ask, or the patient may forget to offer information about previous travel or exposures through other unusual means (Box 4–1). Some medical practitioners may have little familiarity with the pathogen involved or little reason to consider that pathogen without the patient offering adequate historical perspective. The medical practitioner may miss the diagnosis because of the similarity in clinical signs and symptoms that are associated with multiple diseases, especially during early stages of illness. Thus, the primary objectives for this chapter are: (1) to raise general awareness of human activities for which exposure to zoonoses may be underappreciated, and (2) to provide guidance for individuals seeking medical assistance that may help with timely and accurate diagnoses.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Zoonoses and travel: Chapter 4 in Disease emergence and resurgence: The wildlife-human connection
Series title:
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
National Wildlife Health Center
16 p.
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Disease emergence and resurgence: The wildlife-human connection (Circular 1285)
First page:
Last page: