Pets are kept in millions of households around the world and enrich the lives of their owners immensely however there are diseases that can be transmitted from pets to humans that we should be aware of. This is especially true if you have young children or people with weak immune systems living in your household.
While the risk of infection is generally low, young children, elderly people and expecting mothers tend to be at a higher risk bracket of contracting a disease from a household pet that healthier individuals and special care should be exercised in these instances.
Cats and dogs commonly carry intestinal parasites that can be transmitted to humans through contact with feces. This usually requires close contact between the human and the pet but young children are at high risk of becoming infected with such parasites, especially roundworms. Children have a habit of putting their unwashed hands in their mouths and this makes it easy for roundworms to enter the body of the unsuspecting child. Roundworm infection in humans results in loss of appetite, coughing, fever and lung infection. Always make sure you wash your hands before and after handling your pet and teach your children to do so too. Proper disposal of your pet’s waste is also important if you are to reduce risk of infection.
Salmonellosis is another disease humans can contract from pets. Reptiles, rodents and amphibians are usually carriers of the salmonella bacteria. This bacterium is very persistent and can survive for months in dry environments and even in water so if you keep pets it is vital that you always wash your hands properly as well as disinfect any surfaces your pet may have come in contact with. This is especially important if you have children and immuno suppressed individuals in your household.
Strep throat is another infection you should be aware of if you have pets. Children once again are at the highest risk of contracting the disease from a pet as they unknowingly kiss or even lick the pet. Sharing food with a pet also puts you at risk of contracting strep throat.
Scabies or sarcoptic mange is also transmittable to humans from pets. This disease is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin and cause severe scratching and itching. The disease manifests itself in later stages as skin lesions and it can be extremely painful and difficult to treat. Again, thorough washing of the hands after contact with a pet is important if you want to reduce the risks of infection.
Always practice common sense and perform adopt proper hygienic practices if you own pets and you should be safe from any diseases that can be transmitted from pets to humans. Regular veterinary checkups should ensure that your pet is healthy and reduce any risk of infection. Keep your pet’s environment clean and teach members of your household to wash their hands before and after handling the pet. Being aware of the risks involved should help protect you and your family from any transmittable disease your pet may have.