Gallery: Animals Can Suffer Human Diseases Too

Zoonotic diseases can go from us to them.


Click to launch the photo gallery_

This week we found out that fruit flies can get depressed–in at least one experiment, anyway–after they realize they cannot escape uncomfortable heat no matter what they do. Depression is actually pretty common in the animal kingdom, especially when it’s induced in the lab. Many kinds of animals exhibit a classic depression-related sense of helplessness when they can’t change their situations.

But that led us to think about the other human ailments animals can become afflicted with. And they are many. We’re not talking about diseases that we induce for experimental purposes through genetic modification, from cancer to rats with Alzheimer’s–that’s a different story entirely. Symptoms like depression, however, or obesity, are ailments animals can contract on their own (or with some help from humans). These are illnesses we may not associate with other members of the animal kingdom.

Animals can also get sick with the same infections as humans. Flu and rabies are well known, but sexually transmitted diseases crop up in animals too. Animals can’t use protection to prevent STIs from spreading. Which critters contract venereal disease, as well as sicknesses of the respiratory tract, skin and cardiovascular system, may surprise you. Click through the gallery to see a few examples.