MSPCA-Angell Headquarters

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7400
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Angell Animal Medical Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7282
angellquestions@angell.org
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Angell West

293 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 902-8400
angellquestions@angell.org
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Angell at Nashoba – Low-Cost Wellness Care

100 Littleton Road, Westford, MA 01886
(978) 577-5992
angellquestions@angell.org
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-5055
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Cape Cod

1577 Falmouth Road, Centerville, MA 02632
(508) 775-0940
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Nevins Farm

400 Broadway, Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 687-7453
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Wildlife & Human Health

Some diseases, known as zoonotic diseases, can be transmitted from wildlife to humans. Fortunately, in Massachusetts many of the most prevalent zoonotic diseases are easily preventable, identifiable, and treatable. Learn about the transmission, symptoms, and prevention of these common diseases.

Giardia Lyme Disease Rabies West Nile Virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis Zika Virus

GIARDIA

Giardia lamblia is a common single-celled parasite that can cause an illness of the intestines known as Giardiasis. The disease can be found throughout the world and is widespread among mammalian, avian, and reptile species.

Giardia and Beaver

While there has never been a proven, documented case of a human contracting Giardia from beaver, the species has often been unfairly and inaccurately implicated as the source of Giardia contamination of freshwater resources. However, current research shows that contamination from humans is regarded as a more probable source. In fact, humans are now considered to be the most common reservoir of Giardia, as they shed 900 million cysts per day.

Transmission 

Symptoms

Usually appear 9-12 days after exposure, but can appear anywhere between 5-25 days. Symptoms can include:

 Treatment

Some individuals recover without the need for medication.

Prevention

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LYME DISEASE

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can be spread to both people and animals through the bite of very small, infected ticks. These ticks require constant, high relative humidity at ground level, and therefore are most common in the northeastern and coastal states, the upper Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Lyme disease is most often spread during the late spring through the early fall seasons. Ticks live on low-lying brush and grassy areas, and crawl onto animals and people who come into contact with these plants.

Although people generally associate deer with Lyme disease, at least 27 species of mammals serve as efficient hosts for deer ticks, and over 125 vertebrate species serve as effective hosts for nymphs (immature ticks).

Transmission

Transmission occurs through the bite of an infected deer tick:

Symptoms

Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite):

Later Signs and Symptoms (weeks to months after tick bite):

Treatment

Prevention

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RABIES

Rabies is a much-feared disease of the nervous system that dates back to ancient times. Rabies was rare in Massachusetts for decades, appearing primarily in a very small percentage of bats. However, an outbreak of raccoon rabies, which originated in the mid-Atlantic states in the late 1970s, made its way to New England. It is one of several strains of rabies impacting wildlife in the United States.

You cannot tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it. Some infected animals may act strangely or aggressively, but others may not.

All mammals can contract rabies, but the current outbreak primarily affects raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes, and occasionally woodchucks. Birds, rabbits, opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, and other small rodents are rarely affected. Snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish, and insects do not get rabies.

Transmission

Symptoms

Treatment

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal:

If your pet is bitten or scratched by another animal:

Prevention

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WEST NILE VIRUS

West Nile Virus is a virus that causes encephalitis and is primarily transmitted to humans and other animals by mosquitoes and ticks while they feed. In recent years, mosquito collection and testing has provided the most reliable indication of current activity.

Transmission

Symptoms

 Treatment

 Prevention

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EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus identified in mosquitoes.  Outbreaks of EEE usually occur in Massachusetts every 10-20 years and typically last 2-3 years.

 Transmission

Symptoms

Usually appear 3 to 10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito:

Treatment

 Prevention

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ZIKA VIRUS

Zika is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with Zika virus do not get sick, but the virus can sometimes be passed from a pregnant woman to a fetus which may cause a serious birth defect of the child’s brain. In February of 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and pregnant women were advised not to travel to certain infected countries.

Transmission

Symptoms

The incubation period is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. The virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.

Treatment

Prevention

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