I can get what from my pet?! 10 Zoonotic disease you should be aware of.
by Heike Mayes
1. Lyme disease
You can’t get Lyme disease directly from your pet, but they can pick up an infected tick and pass it on to you. For pets who spend time in the woods, make sure perform a tick check upon their return home.
2. Cat scratch fever
Cat scratch disease usually follows a bite or scratch from a cat, with a mild infection where the wound is. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, fatigue and diminished appetite.
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals generally transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Most rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year occur in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, but domestic species accounted for 8 percent of all rabid animals reported in the United States in 2010.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that your pet can get when it comes into contact with an infected animal, such as raccoons or contaminated water. In humans, it may produce no symptoms, or it may come with many, including high fever, headache, chills, aches, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, diarrhea and rash.Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis liver failure, respiratory distress and death.
We commonly hear about outbreaks of contaminated food, but people can get it from pets as well, usually through contact with the pet’s feces. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping.
Humans can get this nasty parasite from contact with cat feces, or by eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables. Once ingested, it can invade the brain and muscle tissues, and reside within cysts that are resistant to attacks by the host's defense system. The infection can be passed from an infected mother to her baby, so pregnant woman should be relieved from cat-box duty.
This fungal infection forms a ring-shaped rash on the skin. It is transmitted easily from pets to people, and from people to people, who can get it from direct contact with an infected animal.
Nearly all puppies and kittens get roundworm. Roundworms are passed though feces and the eggs form can survive in the soil for years. If a human accidentally eats an egg, the worms hatch in the intestine. The larvae can also enter directly through the skin. Symptoms include fever, coughing, asthma, and/or pneumonia. The worms can also enter the eye, which though rare, causes blindness in seven out of 10 of those affected by it.
Humans and pets can pick up tapeworm parasites by inadvertently swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Larva will develop into adult tapeworms in the intestine and can live for years. Tapeworms have been known to grow to longer than 12 feet long!
These intestinal parasites are commonly found in young dogs and cats. The worms’ eggs are passed from pets through stool and infest soil. People get infected by direct contact when they walk barefoot over contaminated soil. Hookworm infection can cause painful and itchy skin infections or abdominal symptoms.
So, what else can you get from your pet?
11. Unconditional love and friendship.
The good news is that most of these diseases are completely preventable and avoidable. Lets work together to create a parasite prevention program that is safe for your family.
To start, follow these tips to help protect yourself and your pet.
- Routine exams with fecal checks. This should be every 6 months to a year.
- Maintain a parasite prevention protocol. Ask us to set you up with a safe routine. Be wary of products over the counter, they can cause serious helth issues.
- Keep vaccines current.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water after coming into contact with feces.
- Avoid rough play with cats.
- If your cat or dog bites you, wash the area with soap and water right away and seek medical attention.
- Wash your hands after handling your pet — especially before eating or preparing food.
- People with weakened immune systems should take special precautions. These include never letting pets lick them on the face or on an open cut or wound, never touching animal feces, and never handling an animal that has diarrhea.
- Don't let your pet drink from toilet bowls or eat feces.
- Cover children’s sandboxes when not in use.
- Periodically clean litter boxes with scalding water and detergent
- Scoop litter daily
- Feed cats cooked commercial foods
- Avoid allowing your pets lick your face, food utensils or plates.
Contact either one of our Seattle or Everett Animal Hospital locations with questions. Our experienced veterinary team would love to cater to you and your pet!