CDC Releases First Report on Animal Contact Outbreaks

According to CDC’s first report on animal contact outbreaks, 59 outbreaks of enteric (intestinal) disease were linked to contact with animals or their environment in 2017.

Information in the report comes from CDC’s Animal Contact Outbreak Surveillance System, which is part of the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). State, local, and territorial public health agencies submit reports of enteric  disease outbreaks through NORS.

Although most illnesses linked to animal contact are not part of a recognized outbreak, these outbreaks can provide important information on germs that spread from animals to people and the types of animals and settings commonly involved. CDC plans to issue annual reports on these outbreaks.


  • In 2017, 59 outbreaks of enteric disease associated with animal contact were reported, resulting in 1,518 illnesses, 312 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths.
  • Cryptosporidium was the most common cause of confirmed, single-etiology outbreaks, accounting for 21 outbreaks (41%), 158 illnesses, and 6 hospitalizations.
  • Salmonella was the second leading cause of confirmed, single-etiology outbreaks with 18 (35%); these outbreaks resulted in the most outbreak associated-illnesses (1,237 illnesses, 84%), hospitalizations (286, 92%), and deaths (2, 67%).
  • Livestock (25 outbreaks) and poultry (15) were the most common types of animals implicated. The most outbreak-associated illnesses were from contact with poultry (1,149 illnesses), livestock (132), and reptiles (89).
  • Farms or dairies (11 outbreaks, 30%) were the most commonly reported setting among outbreaks with a single location of exposure, followed by private homes (10 outbreaks, 27%).

According to the CDC, each year, enteric diseases linked to animals or their environments are estimated to cause 450,000 illnesses, 5,000 hospitalizations, and 76 deaths in the United States.

 These illnesses are attributed to contact with an animal’s feces or bodily fluids, which can be present on the animal, in its environment, or in its food or water. Outbreak data can provide insight into human illnesses caused by pathogens transmitted through animal contact and can inform efforts to prevent disease. The findings in this report exemplify the One Health concept by highlighting how the health of people is interconnected with animals and the environment.

During 2017, 59 animal contact outbreaks were reported, resulting in 1,518 illnesses, 312 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths. Forty-six were single-state outbreaks; these were reported from 18 states. Thirteen were multistate outbreaks; exposures occurred in 49 states and Washington, D.C. The median reporting rate among states was 1.1 outbreak per million population; rates ranged from 0.2 in Florida to 6.3 in Nebraska

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