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December 5, 2012

How animals spread diseases to us

(Continued)

IOWA CITY —

One final note — while we often consider humans the victims of such pandemic events, that's not always the case. Zoonoses are a two-way street, and humans can also spread our own native microbes to other species. Recent studies have shown that humans have spread antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus to many different species, including domestic chickens, pigs and even chimpanzees and dolphins. We, too, are a walking biohazard.

Tara C. Smith is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, where she serves as co-director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. She studies zoonotic diseases, focusing on Staphylococcus aureus, and maintains a blog on infectious diseases at scienceblogs.com/aetiology. You can also follow her on Twitter at @aetiology.

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