Can Your Pet Make You Sick?
Faithful felines and devoted dogs provide innumerable benefits to their owners, but sometimes they can spread infections to humans. There are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of contracting an infection from your pet.With millions pets in United States homes, transmission of an infectious disease from pet to owner can occur. However, common sense and proper veterinary care can keep these occurrences relatively low.Most animal diseases are treatable, even avoidable. If your pet gets sick it is important to get prompt treatment.Many infectious diseases tend to be specific to certain species. However, bacteria or parasites that live harmlessly or cause limited disease in one species may cause more serious illness in another.
What Can Pets Pass Along?
Animal bites and scratches can present serious problems for people. If a wound is not cleaned and dressed properly or if medical care is not provided, the person is more likely to get an infection. Infections that may be passed from pets to people include:
Cat Scratch FeverCat scratch fever
is caused by bacteria carried by healthy cats.. Cat scratch fever results after a cat scratches the skin, bites, or licks an open sore. About a week later, the point of contact develops a raised bump. Other symptoms may occur, like fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, or headache. Serious complications, like a high fever or pneumonia, may result.
Another infection that can result from contact with cats, toxoplasmosis
, poses the most danger to unborn children of women who do not have immunity or antibodies to the agent. Cats harboring the parasite may not show any symptoms but will shed spores in their feces. The spores become infectious within a day or two.Effects of toxoplasmosis on the fetus depends on gestational age. Pregnancy complications include miscarriage
. The newborn infant is also at risk of having severe mental disabilites, cataracts, and hearing loss.
can trigger diarrhea
, fever, headache, and abdominal pain. Bacterial infections of the intestine from bacteria occur most often after people ingest contaminated food or beverages, however, this infection can also be passed from pets to humans.
is spread through ingestion of water or food that has been contaminated by feces containing the a specific organism. Giardia
is one of the most common intestinal parasites of both pets and humans in the US. Giardiasis causes gastrointesinal symptoms including, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain.
is an itchy, fungal skin infection that can occur after contact with an infected pet.
Roundworms and Hookworms
These intestinal parasites can make the move to people through contact with contaminated dirt.Roundworms
are not infectious right away. They need to develop in the soil for a couple of weeks. While hookworms enter the feet and cause intense itching, ingested roundworm eggs can make their way to organs and lead to serious complications. Symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, nausea, headache, and fatigue.In pregnant women, hookworms are associated with premature birth and low birth weight.
A bite from an infected animal can cause rabies
. You can eliminate this risk by having your pets vaccinated against rabies.