Research has suggested pets and domesticated animals such as cattle could highlight infections that can spread between humans and animals.

Research from the University of Liverpool showed the number of parasites and pathogens shared by humans and animals is related to how long these animals have been domesticated.

The findings suggest while wild animals may be important in the transmutation of new diseases to humans, livestock and dogs provide the key link in the emergence of new diseases.

Researchers cross-referenced parasites and pathogens in domestic animals with the length of time they had been historically domesticated using data from existing studies.

In canines, domesticated by humans for more than 17,000 years, researchers found 71 shared parasites and pathogens. In cattle, which have been domesticated for around 11,000 years, 34 parasites and pathogens were recorded.

Epidemiologist Marie McIntyre was part of the study team. She said: “We don’t have enough knowledge of how new diseases get from wildlife into humans.

“This study shows domesticated animals can play an important role in that process and that diseases have been shared in this way for thousands of years.

Vast amounts of research are being carried out in this field, yet it isn’t easy to search or draw patterns from it. As with this research into domestic animals, a database can help by bringing huge amounts of evidence together in one place.”

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