Most infectious diseases (an estimated 75%) are zoonotic. Wildlife is a major and increasing reservoir of these diseases. Reasons include the exponential growth in human population, which reduces wildlife habitats; changes in agricultural practices; wildlife trade (including illegal acts); increased consumption of bush meat; live-animal markets; ecotourism (also known as adventure travel); petting zoos; and exotic pets. This article discusses how emerging infectious disease has affected human health, including increased morbidity and mortality. The trend is also responsible for severe economic losses both domestically and worldwide. This important area of public health requires close working relationships among veterinarians, wildlife specialists, and public health personnel.

COMMENTARY: Methods of zoonotic transmission include direct contact, indirect contact with inanimate objects, and vectors. Both domestic animals and wildlife are reservoirs. The emergence and reemergence of zoonotic diseases are challenging to all the professionals involved with public health, including veterinarians.

Wildlife, exotic pets, and emerging zoonoses. Chomel BB, Belotto A, Meslin FX. Emerg Infect Dis 13:6-11, 2007.