Pets are fascinating additions to a family as they are often the pride of their owners. While pets can offer numerous benefits ranging from giving you company, offering unconditional love to even reducing stress, you should not ignore that they are animals and that they can cause infectious disease.
Most pets act as carriers of bacteria which are then passed to humans through various means.
Some of these diseases can be fatal while others cause birth defects and hence a reason to prevent them.
In this article, we have covered ten diseases that one is highly likely to acquire from their pets and how to prevent them.
1. Ringworms from young puppies and kittens.
Ringworm is a common fungal infection that is contracted from kittens and puppies.
Though some older cats and dogs don’t show symptoms of the disease, it’s prudent you avoid touching infected pets or the pet’s beddings and even the garden soil where the pet may have slept or done its business.
Ringworms cause a red scale on your skin or sometimes a bald spot on the head.
To avoid ringworm infection, health specialists advise you to wash your hands immediately after petting your animals. Additionally, wearing gloves when working in the garden helps reduce the risk of getting in contact with ringworm.
2. roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms
Hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms are intestinal parasites that attach onto the lining of the intestines and eat the host’s blood and tissue. Hookworms are small and tiny worms that normally survive in warm and humid geographical areas. They mostly affect young puppies and kittens. Hookworms eggs are passed through the pet’s stool and interacting with infected stool can result in one acquiring the worm. Hookworms will penetrate human flesh causing a small itchy patch on skin that will eventually die off.
Roundworms are mostly acquired from the mother’s tissues or the mother’s milk. Most puppies are born with roundworms which will stay in the intestinal tract till its 5 inches long. It’s passed to humans by touching the infected pet’s stool. Roundworms infections can be treated; however, delayed treatment can cause blindness or even cause severe damage to humans.
Tapeworms are white in color and they burrow their head into the host’s intestinal linings. Tapeworms, just like the other worms are transmitted to humans through interaction with the fecal matter of an infected pet. If not treated, roundworms cause the production of cysts on the liver, lungs, and brain; which can result in gastrointestinal problems or even death.
Avoid walking barefooted or sitting on contaminated soil. Always put the pets’ waste on the plastic bags and dispose of them in trash bins. Additionally, wash your hands after attending to your pet. Also, remember to make sure your pet is free from ticks and fleas. New pets should be examined by vets and treated for any worms
Do you own a reptile? Is it a snake, lizard, turtle, or any other reptile? This is for you. Pet reptiles can cause salmonellosis; a disease caused by the bacterium salmonella. Salmonella is passed to humans through eating foods infected with the bacteria. This comes about by not washing hands after handling the feces of infected pets. Children under 5 years and Old people are vulnerable to salmonellosis and it’s for this reason that CDC strongly recommends against such groups touching reptiles.
Salmonellosis can be prevented by washing hands regularly after handling your pet or putting anything in the pet’s cage. Never wash the animal cages on kitchen sinks as the bacteria may come into contact with food and utensils. Also, ask your vet to test your pet at least once a year so as to make sure it’s free from the salmonella bacteria. Make sure you wash your kids’ hands after a trip to a petting zoo.
4. Parrot fever
Parrot fever is a rare disease caused by Chlamydia psittaci, bacteria. As the name suggests, parrot fever is a disease acquired from birds. Parrots are not the only carriers of the disease but also other pets can carry the virus. Chickens, turkeys, parakeets, ducks, cockatiels, and pigeons are the most common birds that one can acquire parrot fever from.
Humans get parrot fever by inhaling the birds’ feces, urine, or other body excretions. You may also acquire the disease by kissing the beak of an infected bird. Symptoms of parrot fever include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, dry cough, muscle, and joint pain, and fatigue.
Parrot fever can be prevented by constantly cleaning your bird’s cages, taking good care of your birds, feeding birds properly, and decongesting crowded cages. If you are having multiple cages, make sure they are spaced to avoid feces from being transferred between cages.
5. Toxoplasmosis of your pet cats
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the Toxoplasmas parasite. These parasites are tiny and they tend to affect only the cats and members of the cat family. An infected cat takes between one to three weeks after infection then they can start shedding Toxoplasma through their feces.
The pets can acquire the disease from eating infected wild animals. One can get Toxoplasma by drinking water contaminated with toxoplasma, eating undercooked or raw meat and eating dirt that contains toxoplasma by not washing fruits after touching an infected cat.
Toxoplasma rarely causes serious illness and thus people who get infected tend to have usual sickness symptoms which include flu, fever, headache and sore throat. However, a pregnant woman infected with the disease is at high risk of giving birth to kids with birth extreme defects and numerous complications.
Toxoplasmosis can be prevented by thoroughly washing hands after attending to your cat or exposure to soil on your garden. Also restrain your cats indoors as outdoor roaming can result to your cat acquiring the parasite. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid cleaning kittens and if possible stay away from them.
6. Cat scratch flea disease
Cat scratch disease carried by Bartonella henselae bacteria and it causes the swelling of the lymph nodes. If your cat has fleas and it scratches the flea then it scratches you and in the process your skin breaks, then you will be infected with the bacteria.
The symptoms you are likely to develop after the infection include swollen lymph nodes, fever and a general feeling of sickness.
If bitten or scratched by a cat, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water. Make sure your cat is placed in a monthly flea medication program to prevent fleas.
7. Avian Tuberculosis
Avian tuberculosis is a pet disease that affects pet birds. The disease is not common and thus one is unlikely to get it. However, you cannot ignore safety precautions as contracting avian tuberculosis is near impossible to treat due to the disease’s ability to be resistant to antibiotics.
The disease is contagious and thus it can be transmitted airborne to humans. Just like human tuberculosis, avian tuberculosis attacks the lungs.
To prevent avian tuberculosis, make sure you buy bird pets from a registered store.
8. Rabies from dogs
If you have pets as your dogs, you probably must read this. Rabies is a dreaded disease that is not only untreatable but also deadly on human beings. When an animal, whether human or pet is infected with Rabies, the central nervous system will be affected adversely.
Rabies is transmitted from one animal to another through saliva containing rubies entering an opening in the skin via a bite or scratch of an infected animal. When your dog gets bitten by another dog with rabies, it will get infected and if you get bitten by an infected dog, you will too get infected.
If you start developing a flu-like illness, hallucinations, and delirium after a dog bite, quickly seek medical attention; though you will unlikely survive.
Rabies is fatal and untreatable and thus the only way to prevent it is to make sure your dog is regularly vaccinated against rabies.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by leptospira bacterial which is normally found in the urine of infected animals such as squirrels, dogs, mice, and rats. Once Leptospira is released into the environment, it can stay on soil or water for up to weeks.
If your pet runs over the infected soil and its clean paws come in contact with the urine, your pet will definitely be infected with the bacteria. Leptospirosis is treatable but leaving it unattended after infection can cause kidney failure. Some notable symptoms include vomiting, fever, and chills.
Leptospirosis can be prevented by regularly vaccinating your pets. Also, try to keep rodents out of your house or garden.
10. lymphocytic choriomeningitis
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a disease caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus or LMCV. Just like Leptospirosis, the bacteria causing the disease are found in droppings, nests or urine of infected rodents pets. The pet owner can get infected by coming in direct contact with the infected pet or its droppings. LCM or Lymphocytic choriomeningitis causes encephalitis which may need you to seek treatment. One adverse effect of LCM is that it causes congenital defects and mental retardation on unborn children if a pregnant woman is infected with the disease.
LCM can be prevented by ensuring limited or no contact with wild mice. Also, keep your backyard clean of rodents. If you have a pet that is a rodent, like guinea pigs or hamsters, make sure you clean your hand after handling them.
Pets are joy of every pet owner; however, try to practice stringent hygiene measures to ensure you and any other person do not become a victim of the pet diseases. Always wash your hands with soap and regularly vaccinate your pets. In case you are bitten or scratched by a pet, seek for medical attention. Additionally, Old, young,
pregnant and people with poor immunity should not be allowed to handle pets on their own. If conditions call for them to handle pets, make sure hygiene is maintained. Also, teach your children how to effectively wash hands after holding the pets.