Tags: pets | illnesses | sick | zoonotic

7 Illnesses You Can Get From Your Pet

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 04:21 PM


Pets are members of our families and can be good for our health — their unconditional love reduces stress, and taking a dog on a daily walk can reduce the risk of many health problems, including obesity and cardiovascular disease.

But there is a flip side to the coin: Pets can also make us sick. Fortunately, most zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses spread from animals to humans, can usually be prevented with regular visits to the vet and frequent hand-washing after petting animals or cleaning up after them.

Illnesses you can get from your pet include:

• Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is caused by an infection of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the most common parasites in the world. Although healthy humans may not have any symptoms, which are usually flu-like, those with compromised immune systems can have serious complications including lung problems. Babies of infected moms can be stillborn or have birth defects. Infected children may not show signs, which include hearing loss and mental disabilities, until they are teens. Avoid infections by taking care cleaning litter boxes and wearing gloves when gardening.

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• Salmonella. Reptiles, including lizards, snakes, and turtles, harbor salmonella, a bacterial disease that infects the intestinal tract. Although it doesn't make the animal sick, humans who come in contact with it can be ill for a week with diarrhea, nausea, fever, and cramps, and complications can be life-threatening . The disease is so common that the CDC recommends against keeping turtles as pets if the family consists of young children, senior citizens, or others with compromised immune systems. Your vet can test your pet to make sure it doesn't have salmonella.

• Ringworm. Although you're more likely to get ringworm from puppies and kittens, you can get it from dogs and cats of all ages. Caused by a fungus, ringworm is identified by a red, scaly, round rash on the skin or scalp. It's extremely contagious, and you can get it from petting an infected animal, touching their bedding, or coming in contact with their feces. Treating ringworm with a topical anti-fungal cream or ointment containing either miconazole or clotrimazole — applying it beyond the borders of the rash — usually does the trick.

• Rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that spreads through animal bites. Pet owners can get rabies from their pets if they are unvaccinated and are bitten by an infected wild animal, such as a raccoon, skunk, or bat. Although rabies shots protect animals from infection, if you're bitten by an animal and don't know if it's been vaccinated against rabies, you may need a series of rabies shots. Rabies in humans is usually fatal.

• Roundworms. Roundworms are parasites which can cause an illness known as toxocariasis. Since most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms, they should be treated at an early age. Roundworms don't usually cause serious illnesses in humans, but if they infect the eye, the can cause eye problems. According to the CDC, almost 14 percent have antibodies to toxocara, indicating that millions of Americans have been exposed to the parasite.

• Parrot fever (psittacosis).
Your bird could transmit the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci if you inhale dried secretions containing it, even though your bird may appear healthy. Symptoms could include muscle aches, fevers, and chills, and can be treated by common antibiotics, such as doxycycline. The CDC suggests you clean the lining of your bird's cage every day, wear gloves, and avoid stirring up droppings.

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• Cat-scratch fever.
Cat-scratch fever is caused by a bacteria (Bartonella henselae). Symptoms include fever, enlarged lymph glands on the side of the body that was scratched or bitten, and general malaise. It usually resolves itself within a month with or without treatment, but in rare cases — most often in those whose immunity is seriously compromised — it can lead to serious complications, including seizures or endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart's endocardium. If you get a scratch or bite from your cat, wash it immediately with soap and water.

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Pets are members of our families and can be good for our health - their unconditional love reduces stress, and taking a dog on a daily walk can reduce the risk of many health problems, including obesity and cardiovascular disease. But there is a flip side to the coin: Pets...
pets, illnesses, sick, zoonotic
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2015-21-11
Monday, 11 May 2015 04:21 PM
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