More than half of all infections that people can get can be spread by animals. Diseases like rabies, Salmonella, and West Nile virus infections are examples of zoonotic diseases (or zoonoses)—diseases that can be shared between animals and people. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from diseases spread between animals and people. Animals can sometimes serve as early warning signs of potential illness in people. For example, birds often die of West Nile virus before people get sick with West Nile virus fever.
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