The Veterinary Nurse Pathway Certificate

Bacterial Disease

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by having contact with the urine of an infected animal, the disease can live for months in soil if the conditions allow. The bacteria requires moist conditions to live which sees it occur most commonly in NSW and QLD within Australia. The disease is evident in a number of different animals, most livestock, domestic pets and even marine mammals can be infected, and the disease can be transferred to humans as well. The disease in animals has symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, muscle pain and reproductive issues (such as miscarriage and abnormal milk production). In humans it can be seen as flu-like symptoms, fever, jaundice, vomiting and weakness among other things.

Fungal Disease

Histoplasmosis is a fungal disease which is infectious but not contagious

and can be contracted by humans and animals (although it is rare in dogs and cats).It is generally contracted by inhaling (or ingesting) the fungal spores

found in soil containing bird or bat droppings. In animals the symptoms

are non-specific and vary, they can include fever, respiratory difficulty, weight loss, coughing, diarrhoea, lameness, enlargement of internal organs, eye infections and weeping lesions on the skin.

In humans the disease generally presents itself as fatigue, headaches, fever, coughing and chest discomfort.

Viral Disease

West Nile Fever is a virus that is mostly found in birds but can be found in a number of reptile and animal species as well as in humans. The disease is carried by a vector (mosquito) from an infected bird who the vector bites to other birds or animals. Most symptoms in animals are neurological, ranging from head pressing and teeth grinding (in horses) to muscle twitching, loss of appetite and

impaired vision. It can also cause weakness, inability to swallow, paralysis and coma. In birds it can be seen as reluctance to move, lying down, leg or wing paralysis and lack of coordination. In humans the virus often shows no symptoms but in some cases,it can be observed as nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever, coma, tremors, weakness, paralysis and other neurological and physical



There are four main types of protozoa;

amoebae, flagellates, ciliates and sporozoa. Each moves and multiplies differently and protozoa can be the cause of many diseases such as malaria.

One of the most commonly known diseases caused by protozoa is amoebiasis, it has been seen in dogs and cats as well as humans. The symptoms of the disease are dysentery (blood in faeces), diarrhoea, weakness, loss of appetite, prolapsed anus, anaemia, emaciation and inflammation of the large intestine. It is spread through consumption of anything that has been in contact with the

faeces of a diseased animal, it can come from a water or food source that has been contaminated with the parasite.

Another extremely common disease is giardiasis, the symptoms of which include diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting and malabsorption of nutrients. The disease is transmitted through the consumption of cysts formed in the small intestine and passed out of the body in faeces, as such it is commonly seen in dogs in shelters and other environments where the animals are in close proximity.


Coccidiosis is another common disease caused by protozoa, the symptoms of the disease vary between species. In dogs the most common symptoms are diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood), dehydration and weight loss.In cattle (and particularly  calves) it can present as having a fast pulse, loss of appetite,

anaemia, emaciation, diarrhoea containing mucus and blood and fever. The disease is spread through ingestion of infected eggs (or oocysts) which enter the environment after being passed from an infected animal.


Anaplasmosis is a disease that causes a variety of symptoms in the effected animal including fever, loss of appetite, hypersalivation, diarrhoea, laboured respiration, swelling, anaemia and emaciation. The disease is transmitted by vectors (ticks and flies) which transfer the infective material and can pass the disease on to their eggs.


Toxoplasmosis is another protozoan disease that can be contracted by both humans and animals. The disease is spread by consumption of oocysts passed in faeces, this can occur from contamination of food products or eating the meat of an infected animal and is most commonly transmitted in cat faeces. The disease causes fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes in humans. Cats often show no symptoms but if present they can consist of lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, jaundice, respiratory difficulty, blindness, lack of coordination, seizures and other neurological symptoms.


African trypanosomiasis (or African Sleeping Sickness) is another protozoan disease that impacts a wide variety of species. The disease can cause weight loss, anaemia, fever, diarrhoea, emaciation, cardiac lesions, reproductive problems and neurological symptoms. The disease is spread by a vectors (Tsete flies) who carry the disease in their saliva, other types of flies may also be carries and the disease can in some cases be transmitted by mechanical vectors.