One of the more popular gifts of the holiday season is a pet. That warm, snugly puppy or playful kitty can bring happiness and joy, and quickly become a member of the family circle. However, every owner should be aware of six infections pets may potentially transmit to their owners.
- Ringworm (dermatophytosis): This infection is not a worm, as commonly believed, but a fungal infection that is spread from pet to human by direct contact. Typically, infected pets show signs of fur loss, scaling, crusting and/or redness. People infected will have a raised, red, scaly rash with a definite and clear border.
- Scabies: An intense, itchy mite infestation that is highly contagious, especially among dogs, and may be directly spread to humans. Cats are less often infected. Scabies in dogs presents as patches of hair loss, red bumps (papules), scratch marks and redness, while itching predominates in humans, with fewer papules.
- Toxoplasmosis: A parasite that completes its life cycle in the intestine of the cat, this organism can damage the developing fetus of a pregnant woman who is exposed by direct contact with cat feces. Therefore, pregnant women should not clean a cat litter box, and cats should be kept indoors to keep them from hunting.
- Cat-scratch disease (bartonellosis): Cats may transmit this flea-borne infection through a bite or scratch. Using appropriate flea-control products can reduce the incidence. People infected typically will have a fever with swollen lymph nodes, although more serious and long-term health problems may occur. You can read further on Cat-scratch disease by clicking here.
- Salmonella: Pet reptiles and amphibians as well as poultry such as chickens or ducks often carry this bacteria, which, if passed to humans, causes diarrhea and fever. Rarely this bacteria may enter the bloodstream and cause serious illness, sometimes leading to death. Transmission can be reduced through hand-washing after handling these animals or their eggs.
- Tick-borne infections: Although rare, ticks carrying various pathogens can bite a pet and then its human owner, passing certain geographic-dependent diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and relapsing tick-fever. Use of appropriate tick-control products decreases the chance that pets and owners will become infected.
Proper care of pets, appropriate hygiene when handling animals and knowledge of disease signs and symptoms can ensure years of happy, worry-free pet-ownership. Contact our office and make an appointment if you are concerned about a possible pet-acquired infection. If you found this article helpful, you may sign up here to be included in our monthly newsletter.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.