World Zoonoses Day 2021- July 6


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines zoonosis as an infectious disease that has jumped from a non-human animal to humans. These zoonotic pathogens can be bacterial, viral, or parasitic and they can be spread to humans through direct contact or food, water, or the environment. World Zoonoses Day was first celebrated on July 6, 1885, in honour of the French biologist Louis Pasteur who managed to administer the first vaccination against a zoonotic disease on the very day, this vaccine was for rabies. The theme for World Zoonoses Day 2021 is “Let’s Break the Chain of Zoonotic Transmission” and it holds more importance in light of COVID-19.

About Louis Pasteur

Scientific Identity, Portrait of Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur was born on 27th December 1822 in France and died on 28th September 1895. He was a French chemist and microbiologist who is known to be one of the most important founders of medical microbiology. He introduced the study of molecular asymmetry; originated the process of pasteurization; discovered that microorganisms cause fermentation and disease; saved the beer, wine, and silk industries in France; and developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies. He earned France’s highest award of the Legion of Honour. He was also gifted in drawing and painting. He had a bachelor in arts degree and a bachelor in science degree from the Royal College of Besancon.

Vaccine Development

Pasteur’s first discovery in the study of vaccination was in 1879 which was for the disease named chicken cholera. He then started working on anthrax in 1879 also because of the anthrax epidemic in France at that time. Pasteur had also unknowingly created a second class of vaccines known as an inactivated vaccine by accidentally creating a neutralized version of rabies. On July 6, 1885, he vaccinated a nine-year-old boy named Joseph Meister who was bit by a rabid dog and the vaccine was a huge success.

Relevance Today

This day should raise more awareness now as it is said that COVID-19 originated from the bats and then entered the human circle through the wet markets of Wuhan, China. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that almost 75% of new zoonotic diseases originate from animals that can be transmitted to humans by the act of consuming meat or even by coming in contact with the animal which is affected. WHO has said that poultry farmers, meat sellers, and the people living near the forest region have a higher chance of risk of being affected by these diseases. Some of such diseases are HIV (started as zoonosis but later mutated into a human-only strain), Ebola virus, salmonellosis. Some of these zoonoses have the potential of causing recurring disease outbreaks like Ebola and as we have seen, different waves of COVID-19.


The method of prevention for zoonotic diseases differs for different pathogens. But some general practices are seen as effective. A safe and appropriate guideline for animal care in the agricultural sector would help in reducing foodborne zoonotic disease outbreak through meat, eggs, dairy, and vegetables. There should be a set standard for drinking water and waste removal. Education campaigns should be promoted all across the world related to awareness of the diseases and handwashing after coming in contact with an animal.


It is important to learn the history of zoonotic diseases and learning the precautions for them and how to prevent them. With the recent developments of the COVID-19, we know more about how bad the impact of these diseases can be, and it is now more important than ever to learn more about it.