We understand the importance of vaccinating our pets against disease, but it’s important to be aware of diseases that can be transmitted to humans as well. Here are seven of the diseases you can catch from your pets, along with protective measures you can take against them.
As the Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains, toxoplasmosis infection is caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. This is one of many diseases you can catch from your pets, but are usually only found in cats.
Cats may become infected after consuming small animals that are infected. The parasite can then be passed on through the cat’s feces. Humans can also contract the disease from undercooked, contaminated food, or be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
We can protect ourselves and our cats by keeping them indoors, cleaning litter boxes daily, and not feeding them raw food. Pregnant women should take particular care while cleaning the litter box, or have someone else do this. They should also wear gloves while gardening. Should a pregnant woman become infected, toxoplasmosis is treatable with medication. However, careful monitoring of mother and child during and after pregnancy is recommended.
Giardia results from infection by a commonplace parasite that generally affects humans, cats, and dogs. Pets can catch it by various methods, such as digging in contaminated soil or from drinking contaminated water. If your pet shows symptoms, call your pet hospital for treatment and make sure your veterinarian is aware of any other pets in the house.
The CDC states that the risk of humans contracting the disease is small. Nonetheless, regular washing and disinfecting of any areas that your pet can access, routinely cleaning all surfaces, and frequent hand washing can minimize the risk of you catching this disease.
Toxocariasis is a disease caused by the larvae of two types of Toxocara roundworms. Toxocariasis is another disease you can catch from your pets, but it is more commonly found in dogs than cats. Your animal hospital should treat your pets for worms regularly, especially if they’re outdoor pets.
Humans can be infected by inadvertently ingesting Toxocara eggs while working with soil, or more rarely by eating raw or undercooked infected meat. Antiparasitic drugs such as albendazole or mebendazole can treat visceral forms of toxocariasis.
Humans and animals can both become infected with leptospirosis by contact with infected soil or urine. The bacteria can also enter the body through the skin, especially broken skin. The disease is treatable with antibiotics in both humans and in pets. The earlier it is caught, the more rapidly your pet will recover, so seek veterinary services at an animal hospital promptly.
Not swimming and wading in potentially contaminated water greatly reduces your risk of infection. Avoiding contact with potentially infected animals is also advised.
One of the most talked about diseases is Rabies. This a preventable, viral, mammal disease generally transmitted through a bite from a rabid animal. Of all rabies cases reported to the CDC, the vast majority occurred in raccoons, bats, foxes, and other wild animals.
If an animal is bitten or scratched by a wild animal that isn’t available to test, they should be treated as if they have been exposed to the disease. Your animal hospital provides regular rabies vaccines for your pets to protect them from contracting rabies.
Humans are treated with a tetanus shot and the bite wound is cleaned. If no prior rabies vaccine was administered, post-exposure vaccines against rabies are given.
Ringworm is a disease of the skin and scalp caused by fungi, which produces a distinct ring-shaped rash. Animals and humans can contract it by touching infected people or animals, from damp areas, or touching objects that had contact with the fungi.
Ringworm in humans is generally treated with over-the-counter medicine, but some forms require prescription strength antifungal medications.
7. Lyme Disease
Humans and animals contract Lyme disease from the bite of an infected black-legged tick. If detected early, treatment with antibiotics is effective in most human and pet cases.
Some ways to reduce the risk of Lyme disease are using tick repellant, wearing protective clothing, and quickly removing ticks from yourself and your pets. Veterinarians at your animal hospital can recommend products to prevent your pets from ticks.
By understanding feline and canine diseases and how they can be transmitted to humans, you’ll be much better equipped to protect yourself and your pets.
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