We love our pets, but there are several diseases, known as zoonose diseases, that pets can pass onto humans. Sometimes, these diseases can be deadly. Here is a list of the most common ones, and what you can do to prevent them.
- Cat Scratch Disease. If a cat scratches or bites someone with a compromised immune system or a young child, they can acquire this disease. It causes chills, headaches, lymph node swelling, fever, and anorexia. This needs to be treated with antiobiotics, so see your doctor immediately.
- Internal Parasites. Hookworms and roundworms can be acquired from an infected dog or cat by playing with it or through contact with their feces. The best way to prevent this is to have your veterinarian check your pet for worms every six months to a year. Another way is to wash your hands after touching your pet or cleaning up its feces.
- Psittacosis. This is an inhaled bacterial infection acquired from parakeets, parrots, and cockatiels dried droppings. Avoid this by cleaning your pet’s cage often before the droppings dry.
- Rabies. Rabies is the most deadly disease of the ones listed here. If you are bitten by a rabid pet, wash the wound and seek medical attention immediately.
- Salmonellosis. This disease is more prevalent among reptiles, but many pets—cats, dogs, and horses—can pass this onto humans. It affects the gastrointestinal tract and can be extremely serious, particularly to young children. Avoid this by washing your hands regularly after interacting with a pet, wearing protective gloves when you clean reptile cages, and disinfecting reptile cages regularly.
- Toxoplasmosis. This is a parasite that lives within a cat’s intestines and ends up in their feces. It can also end up in your garden or you can come in contact with it through the cat’s litter box. This can particularly troublesome to people with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women who acquire the disease can pass it on to their unborn child, which can then result in blindness, neurological problems, or deafness. If you or your neighbors have a cat, make sure you don’t eat any raw vegetables or fruits from your garden. Always wash them and cook them well before eating. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the cat’s litter box.