They're our best friends, but our pets sometimes carry some nasty bugs that can make us sick too. Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are infections or conditions that can be passed from animals to humans. While most pets pose minimal zoonotic risk to their owners, the risk is higher for those who have weakened immune systems, the elderly, or pregnant women.
The most common conditions carried by our pets are intestinal parasites such as Salmonellosis, Giardia, or Cryptosporidium; skin conditions like scabies; or worms, including Ringworm, Hookworm, and Roundworms. More serious conditions such as Rabies and Lyme disease can also be passed to humans in certain cases.
In most cases, simple hygiene and common sense will limit your risk of infection. Here are a few tips:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after handling or interacting with any animal
- Wash pet bedding frequently
- Keep your home and yard free of pet feces
- Keep children from contacting pet feces
- Give your pet a broad-spectrum dewormer on a regular basis, in addition to monthly treatment for fleas, ticks, and heartworm
- Food and water dishes for your pets should be separate from your family's dishes and should be washed regularly
If these simple precautions are followed, Zoonoses generally aren't something you'll need to worry about. The benefits of owning a pet will far outweigh any risk of contracting one of these conditions! If you're concerned or have additional questions, please feel free to talk to Dr. Damron, Dr. Patterson, or Dr. Yao at the clinic.