Infectious Diseases Pets Can Pass to Humans

You know about the benefits of the human-animal bond if you have ever owned a pet. Based on some studies, pet owners experience relief from stress when they interact with their pets.They provide more than companionship, they are family members too. However, our beloved pets can pass certain diseases (zoonotic) to us humans. To keep both you and your pet healthy, you should be aware of these diseases.

Common Parasites and Fungi 

The common carriers of parasites such as roundworms are the young pets and those with diarrhea. The roundworm eggs can pass to humans through handling of an infected pet. It is rare to see the worms unless your pet was recently wormed, it will appear as strands of spaghetti in your pet's stool. These worms will also cause your pet to vomit. 

Skin diseases such as ringworm which is caused by a fungus can also be transferred to humans. Indicator of ringworm infection are ring shaped skin lesions acquired through contact with animal's skin infected with fungus. Blindness is the serious human health concern stemming from the ingestion of roundworm eggs.

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease that may produce flu like symptoms in humans, it is often transmitted to humans through cat feces. Cats usually do not show signs of infection, but if you notices a loss of appetite or is lacking in energy, your pet may be infected. 

Immunosuppressed  individuals and pregnant women must avoid all possible contact with cat feces and litter boxes. Exposure to toxoplasmosis during their mother's pregnancy may produce birth defects in unborn children.

Preventing the Spread of Toxoplasmosis:
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning your pet's litter box. 
  •  Be sure to remove solid waste from litter box daily. 
  •  Wash hands after cleaning your pet's litter box especially after coming into contact with feces. 
  •  Cover children's sandboxes when not in use. 
  •  Wear gloves when gardening, your neighbor's cats may have left some feces in these outdoor areas.

Dog Bites 

80% of all animal bites are from medium to large sized dogs. More than 50% of all human victims are under the age of 20, consisting mostly of children under 10 years old. A naturally occurring bacteria called Pasteurella multocida can be found in the mouths of dogs and cats alike which can lead to infections in human beings.  

Guarding Against Animal Bites: 
  • When dogs are around, always supervise young children.
  • During summertime when dogs are apt to be outside, be cautious when walking in parks, jogging, bicycling or skating.
  • With the elderly and those with immune compromised systems, take extra caution as bites could result to serious health problems.
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Rabies: A Deadly Threat 

The main source of rabies which is spread through bites from rabid animals is infected wildlife. To protect your pet from this fatal disease, make sure to get him an annual rabies vaccination.
Sudden aggression and unexplained behavior changes may be a sign that your pet has contracted rabies. Isolate your pet  if you think he may have rabies and call your veterinarian immediately.

Cat-Scratch Disease 

Bartonella bacterium
Bartonella bacterium
Also commonly known as cat scratch fever, it is caused by a bacteria called Bartonella which is carried by fleas.The infection is transmitted by cats thru bites and scratches. Most people develop only a minor fever once exposed to this infection. However, those with suppressed immune systems could develop more serious medical conditions such as heart valve problems and spleen enlargement.

Salmonella and Reptiles 

 The Salmonella bacteria is commonly associated with eggs and  raw chicken. However, most reptiles also carries the salmonella bacteria. 

Avoiding the Spread of Bacteria:  
  • Always do proper handwashing after touching your reptilian pet.
  • When cleaning your reptilian pet's cage or when you bathe him, never use the bathtubs and the kitchen sink.
  • Keep your reptilian pet out of kitchen, the bacteria may spread to food.
    Birds  and Bacteria

    Chlamydiosis, Parrot fever, or Psittacosis is an infection associated with birds such as parrots, hawks, and pigeons. It can result to flu-like symptoms in humans once inhaled dust from dried bird droppings. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat your infected pet birds.

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