We love our pets like they’re a member of our family, because they are. We hug them. Some of us kiss them. Some of us let them sleep in our beds. And while there are countless studies about the benefits of the human-pet relationship, there are also dangers. Our cats, dogs, rabbits, parrots, horses and other pets can share more than just love with us – they can share diseases. Here are a list of some diseases your pets can expose you to.
Lyme disease – Okay, let’s start off with the truth. You can’t actually catch lyme disease from your pet, but you can get a tick passed onto you. Hugging your pet, letting him sit on your couch, or sleep on your bed – these all increase the chances of one of your outdoor pets could pass a tick onto you.
Parrot fever (psittacosis) – This is found in the droppings of birds. Birds don’t usually show symptoms of parrot fever, but humans over suffer from blood-tinged sputum, dry cough, fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, joint aches, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.
Cat scratch fever – It’s more than a Ted Nugent song, it’s actually a bacterial disease called bartonella henselae. You can get it after suffering from a cat bite or scratch. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, fatigue, and diminished appetite.
The plague – Doesn’t the sound of it just frighten you? It’s not common, of course, but the plague has been known to show up in rabbits and cats, primarily in the southwest.
Q fever – it’s actually name is coxiella burnetii. It’s found in the milk, urine and feces af animals including cattle, goats, sheep and even cats.
Rabies – The queen of the animal-to-human diseases. Not only is this the one disease you definitely do not want to get, it’s also one of the easiest to prevent in your pets (with a simple vaccine). Rabies will attack the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain, and ultimately death.
Campylobacteriosis – Campylobacteriosis is a common cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S., and is lumped with eating raw or undercooked meat, but you can get it by handling the stool of an infected dog or cat.
Leptospirosis – If your pet drinks, swims, or wades through contaminated water, he and you can get infected. Symptoms include high fever, headaches, chills, vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, and rash. If left untreated this can lead to kidney damage, meningitis liver failure, and even death.
Salmonellosis (salmonella) – You usually think of raw eggs or contaminated chicken when you think of salmonella, but you can also get it through contact with an infected pet’s feces, particularly reptiles and amphibians.
1) Ringworm – Not actually a worm, of course, it’s a rash that’s shaped like a worm. It’s extremely transferrable from pet to people and people to people.
2) Roundworm – This is a common affliction of kittens and puppies. If you don’t treat your young pet for roundworm, chances are he’s going to get it. Roundworm can live in a pet’s feces (and soil) for years. If a child accidentally consumes the roundworm, he can become infected.
3) Tapeworm – While you may not plan on eating a flea anytime soon, it happens. If you play around with your pet, hug him or let him sleep in bed with you, you could actually eat a flea. Not only that, but you could eat a flea infected with tapeworm. Tapeworms cna grow up to 12 feet inside your intestines, and live there for years.
Kids are the most susceptible
Babies and children under the age of 5 are more likely to catch diseases from animals. It’s recommended that young children not be allowed to kiss pets (yes, we know how hard that is), or put their hands (or others objects) into their mouths after touching pets.
You should always wash your child’s (and your) hands with soap and running warm water after contact with any animals, not just your pets. This includes visits to the zoo, farms, and fairs.