Pet Diseases that Transfer to People

Because of immunizations and things like litter boxes and flea treatments, the transfer of pet diseases to humans has greatly been reduced over the years, but there are still some diseases that people can get from pets. And most troubling, when people are infected by their pet, they usually don’t know it.

Intestinal worms are present in many animals, at various times in their lives. When first born, or while pregnant, cats and dogs can develop worms. The worms go dormant in their muscles yet appear throughout stages in the life of the pet. The pet, if not treated for these worms, can then spread them through their stool in the yard, or by laying in bed with your child. The worms are microscopic and kids easily transmit them to their mouths. Our immune systems generally deal with these as soon as they enter our body but sometimes, not right away. Some people get flu-like symptoms for a couple of days, never knowing they’ve been infected with intestinal worms, from their pet.

Worms are particularly troubling to a developing fetus or a child. Worms in sand boxes, for example, can hatch into larvae that will bore into your skin and travel around your system, in blood, lymph nodes, or the neural system. The worms can cause rashes, blindness, bowel problems and worse. Make sure kids wear shoes while outside and that animals don’t use the sand box as their bathroom, to help prevent this disease. It’s also helpful to clean up stool – even from the yard. If pets use the bathroom inside, keep the area sanitized and clean.

Tapeworms are also a threat to humans, and are transmitted from pets to people. Although most medications offered for treatment of worms work well for many species, the tapeworm is a little tougher to kill and won’t respond to regular worm medications. Tape worms must go through a flea or rodent before infesting your pet, making it even more important to guard against fleas. Cats that catch mice should regularly be treated for tapeworm. Once entering the human system, tapeworms can cause severe problems including brain damage.

Rabies is another disease passed from pets to humans, but can be prevented by making sure your animals have regular and up-to-date rabies shots. You can get the vaccinations for your pet at the vet, about once every three years. Rabies can be passed by other animals besides your house pet, like fox, racoon, skunks, woodchucks, squirrels and bats.

Some people have taken to having prairie dogs as pets, but the animal can carry not only rabies, but tuberculosis, plague and other diseases. Any animal that can carry ticks puts humans at risk for other diseases, too, like lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and even paralysis.

Cats put humans at risk, especially pregnant women. Toxoplasmosis is a serious illness that can cause birth defects in fetuses. Pregnant women should not empty litter boxes or clean up cat feces during their second trimester.

Although it’s uncommon people heart worm can be transferred from pet to human. The disease is especially harmful to those with lowered immune systems, such as aids or cancer patients. Ringworm is actually a fungus that is passed from pets to humans. The fungus usually shows itself as a small, dry, circular pink patch. It’s itchy and will continue to get larger, or transfer to other parts of the body, if left untreated.

Turtles and other reptiles put humans at risk for salmonella and E-coli. Diarrhea is one indicator that the reptile owner might be infected. The disease can cause deadly dysentery, especially in children.

If you have a rabbit as a pet, be aware that the rabbit can carry pasteurella, usually signified by respiratory or eye infections in the pet. The disease can cause pneumonia or blindness to people.

Cat scratch fever is a diseased caused by a germ that is spread with a cat bite or cat scratch. Symptoms may include swelling in the area where scratched, swelling of lymph nodes, as well as flu symptoms.

Although pets can pass certain ailments and diseases on to humans, there’s no need to get rid of your pets. Make sure you keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date, use good flea and tick medications, make efforts to prevent rodent infestation in your home, and regularly bathe your pet. Treat all cats and dogs for worms and treat any injury from an animal with antibacterial soap. The chances of getting an illness from animals is less now that we have vaccinations and other treatments – use them to prevent the possibility of infection.

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