Humans were not the only sufferers in crowded farms and villages
Bovine tuberculosis, an ancient disease of cattle, is rarely epidemic in the wild; domestication made it common and spread it to humans
Brucella bacteria are common in wild ungulates but rarely cause epidemics.
In farm herds, brucellosis can run rampant, causing sickness and spontaneous abortions.
People catch it from cows as undulant fever (so called from victims' wavy fever charts).
The protozoon Trypanosoma brucei, which causes only a mild infection in wild African ungulates, strikes domesticated herds with deadly nagana disease, and humans with lethal sleeping sickness.
A number of diseases; such as, malaria, yellow fever, and influenza, have been passed back and forth between humans and other species many times.
The flu virus has an ancient home in birds and swine; since their domestication, birds and pigs have exchanged mutating and recombining flu viruses with humans, in variants for which no immunity exists.
Periodically the result is a killer pandemic, such as the one of 1918.
Flu, smallpox, measles, and mumps are believed to have begun as sporadic zoonoses from domesticated animals.
The measles germ is related to the viruses causing distemper in dogs, rinderpest in cattle, and a type of swine fever; any of these may have sparked the human disease, although the distemper virus seems to be the best candidate.
The smallpox virus is related to those causing vaccinia in cows, ectromelia in mice, and pox infections in fowl and swine.
Such zoonoses ticked away in village and barnyard, biological bombs waiting for dense human populations to appear.
Lists of animals that have caused zoonoses that people have acquired include:
- poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.)
- rats, mice
- draft animals (horses, mules, oxen, etc.)
- food sources
- guinea pigs
- wild birds
- wild animals
Many more zoonoses have been discovered since the previous list was made and new ones are still coming into existence
It was not domesticated animals alone that brought new diseases to Neolithic humans
Virtually every step our ancestors took to increase and vary their food supply invited novel zoonoses.
When Neolithic farmers cleared land for planting, pasture, or timber, they came in daily contact with species which they previously had met only in passing, from monkeys to mosquitoes.
The same zoonosis process continues today in much of the world.
Americans in newly created suburbs have caught Lyme disease from deer ticks, and bubonic plague from the fleas of scavenging rodents.
Africans clearing virgin land have caught hemorrhagic fevers from monkeys and wild rats.
It is believed that they caught the zoonosis AIDS from monkeys as well
—Excerpts from Man and Microbes,
Disease and Plagues in History and Modern Times
by Arno Karlen; published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1995.
Human diseases caused by animals: Zoonoses, Part 1.
Dracunculiasis or the Guinea worm infestation.
Unit of zoo-, -zoan words and definitions.
Unit about diseases and sickness at noso-, -nosis.