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The zoonotic potential of Tasmanian wildlife


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Davies, N 1995 , 'The zoonotic potential of Tasmanian wildlife', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Approximately eighty percent of all infectious diseases in hmnans are
shared in nature by other animals. These diseases are termed as
"zoonoses". Most newly recognised human infections over the last fifty
years have been zoonoses.
As the continent of Australia is so isolated, few diseases probably
infected the Aborigines and most of the diseases that did infect them were
in all likelihood zoonotic. Early explorers noted that Tasmanian
Aborigines, being even more isolated, appeared to be relatively free from
With the arrival of the Europeans, a whole new range of diseases affected
the Aborigines, including not only human diseases such as measles, but
also diseases of the domestic animals they brought with them. In
Tasmania over the past two hundred years, most of these imported
diseases have either been eradicated, or at least controlled. Examples are
brucellosis and hydatid disease. With human activities moving into
previously uninhabited areas, we must therefore now look to the native
animals as a potential source of human disease.
A number of newly recognised zoonoses, and potential zoonoses have
emerged in recent times. Evidence is emerging of newly recognised
parasitic diseases, or diseases such as giardiasis, previously thought to be
specific to humans, being actually zoonotic.
This research project set out to examine what risk is posed by Tasmanian
native animals in the spread disease to the human population.
A survey of animals was carried out to determine what pathogenic
bacteria and parasites were present. A number of Salmonella spp.( 4) were
recorded, along with 4 species of protozoa, 2 species of nematode and 1
Due to reports of diarrhoea in bushwalkers, a survey using an enzyme
linked immunosorbent assay for Giardia species was carried out, with
surprising results, antigens to Giardia sp. being detected in 5.5% of
native animals.An indirect fluorescent antibody test was developed to survey the human
population in an attempt to establish whether evidence existed to any
widespread human infection with Trichinella pseudospiralis. The first
human case of infection with this parasite, thought to have originated in
Tasmania, having just been described. A number of positive samples were
The project has shown that although the risk is relatively low, native
animals do have the potential to serve as reservoirs for diseases of
humans in Tasmania. This is especially so where humans eat meat from
native animals, or venture into more remote areas where water supplies
may be contaminated.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Davies, N
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1995 the Author-The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s)

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