The first step towards keeping your family safe from pet-borne diseases is to know what to look for. In this post, we talk about the pet diseases that can be passed onto humans and the preventive measures that can keep you safe.
Most illnesses that inflict animals cannot get transmitted to humans. But there are some rather harmful infestations and illnesses that you can catch from your pet if you do not take care of their health. Here are some ailments that can harm you as well as your pet and how can you prevent the ailments.
There are various kinds of worms that can infest your pet. Roundworm, ring worm, hookworm, and heartworm are some of the common parasites that can infest your pet. If your pet is infested with worms, then chances are you have them as well. Most worm infestations do not show severe symptoms till the infestation is devastating.
Prevention- Get both your and your pet’s stool tested for worms annually. Ask your vet to prescribe worm medicines for your pet. Do not allow your dog to go near excreta of any other animal.
Your dog can catch tick fever from ticks. But it is not only your dog that can suffer from tick infestation. If an infected tick bites you, then you can catch Lyme disease.
Prevention- Do not go for walks or hikes near places where there are many wild animals. Treat your pet regularly with tick medication to prevent ticks from hitchhiking on your pets.
Rabies is a deadly disease that mammals can contract from other mammals. The disease is a viral disease that can attack any unvaccinated mammal. From wild bats to domestic dogs, the virus can spread from one mammal to another usually through bites. The spit of the infected animal contains the virus that needs to enter another mammal’s bloodstream to infect them. Wild animals and stray animals are the major rabies carriers in the US.
The virus takes 3-8 weeks to reach the brain through the nervous system. Once infected, an animal can show heightened aggression and other signs of rabies. Frothing at the mouth happens much later after the animal is infected. The virus eventually causes encephalitis that leads to death.
Prevention- The easiest way to prevent your pet from being infected by the rabies virus is to have them vaccinated. If your pet is not vaccinated then catching rabies can be a death sentence since there is a very little scope of recovery. Vaccinating your pet regularly ensures their safety from rabies. Do not let your pets remain unsupervised in open spaces where wild animals might have access.
Leptospirosis is a kind of rare bacterial disease that you can catch from your pets. Farm animals and rodents usually spread the bacteria through their urine. Getting infected with Leptospirosis can be like catching the flu. Both animals and humans show the same symptoms of high temperature, joint aches, headache, and nausea. In most cases, the infection is not fatal if treated. Without treatment, the bacteria can cause death by damaging the lungs, kidneys, and liver.
Prevention- Do not let your pets sniff at or lick any wet patches outdoors. After a walk, wash your dog’s paws well. Wash your hands after taking your dog for a walk. If you have farm animals around your house, keep their enclosures clean.
The giardia parasite can be picked up by your pet by drinking contaminated water. The same parasite can multiply and enter your body from your pets through their saliva. Even if you drink contaminated water, you can catch the parasite. It causes stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea. Prescription drugs can help recover from this parasite infestation.
Precaution- If you are going out with your pet, carry water from home for your pets. If you leave your pets unsupervised in your yard, leave a fresh water-source for them to drink from.
You do not need to have raw meat to get infected with salmonella. People who keep reptiles or birds as pets can catch salmonella from their droppings. Contracting the disease can lead to severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever.
Prevention- While the bacteria may not harm your pet, you might get impacted by it. Wash your hands after interacting with your pets. Wear gloves when cleaning their enclosures.
Cat Scratch Disease
Bartonella henselae germ can infect you if you get scratched or bitten by your cat. A large percentage of the cat population tend to be infected with the germ. You will feel fatigue, nausea, joint pains, exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, weight loss, and fever.
Prevention- Keep an eye on your cat to spot symptoms of having the germs. If your cat is infected, then they may show signs of fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. Take your cat to the vet to get treated. Even if your cat is not exhibiting symptoms, you can cut your cat’s nails short. Do not allow your cat to lick a cut or area with broken skin on your body.
The cat-borne protozoa Toxoplasma gondii can be transmitted through fecal matter. The protozoa do not cause any immediate severe reaction. It slowly makes the immunity, of the infected animal or human, weak. If a mother-to-be is infected, then the protozoa can infect the child in the womb.
Prevention- keep your cats from interacting with stray cats. Do not allow pregnant family members to clean the litter box. Clean the litter box frequently ensuring the protozoa stays out.
Bird droppings can carry the Chlamydia psittaci bacteria that can infect humans as well. The bacteria affects the lungs causing shortness of breath along with a plethora of symptoms like fever, joint aches, and nausea. The disease can be easily treated by taking prescription drugs.
Prevention- Never clean your bird enclosures with bare hands. Cover your mouth and nose when doing your cleaning chores. Use soap or detergent to wash any excreta that your bird might have left anywhere else in your house.
Plague might be the last thing that you can expect to contract from your pets. While epidemics are no longer caused by plague, on an average 10 Americans are treated for plague annually. If you have cats or rodents as pets, then you can get bitten by any flea that is carrying the plague bacteria.
Precautions- You need to keep your cats and rodents free from fleas. Ask for regular flea medication that you can use to keep your house safe from plague.
By taking simple safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and healthy environment for your pet and your family. Regular vet check-ups and vaccinations are essential for the health of your household.