With all the anxiety and fear we’ve felt about COVID-19, it’s no surprise that so many pet parents are asking if pets can transmit diseases to them and their families. The short answer is “yes.” There are many zoonotic diseases that both people and pets can get. In fact, July 6th is Zoonoses Day—a day dedicated to bringing awareness to protecting pets and people from diseases that can infect people and animals.
How Worried Should You Be About Contracting an Illness from Your Pet?
While 2 out of 3 diseases human suffer from originated from animals, many are not directly transmitted from pets to people. Many diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and West Nile Virus need a carrier to transmit the bacteria or virus that cause these diseases. And when it comes down to it, the chances of getting sick from your pet are very slim.
What Diseases Can You Get from a Pet?
Cat scratch fever also called “Bartonella” is an infection cats and dogs can acquire from fleas and pass on to people. You or a family member can become infected with cat scratch fever with a simple scratch. The bacteria that causes the disease can transmitted under the skin and causes swelling and fever. Cat scratch fever can be easily prevented with flea prevention and cleaning all scratches with soap and water.
Rabies is a serious disease with no known cure. Luckily, it is extremely uncommon in pets since most cities and states require rabies vaccinations by law.
Ringworm, despite its name, is actually a fungal infection, not a worm. It is caused by spores that can cling to your pet’s coat. If you pet has these spores or an infection from them and you pet him or her, then touch your skin, you can develop a rash in a circular pattern. The best way to avoid ringworm is always wash your hands after petting your dog or cat.
Roundworms are the most common parasite our pets get. Roundworms live in the intestines and rob their hosts of nutrition. They can cause bloating, malnutrition, and even death. Roundworms are most commonly found in puppies and kittens, since their immune systems are still developing, they can be passed to them by their mothers’ milk, and they have an unpleasant habit of eating poop (ew!). Washing your hands before eating is always a great idea. So is washing after you pet or play with a pet. Finally, because roundworms eggs can be found in an infected animal’s poop, always clean up accidents as quickly as possible, disinfect the area, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted from cats to people. This bacteria-caused disease can be passed from a cat’s feces to a person through accidental ingestion (ew, again!). Toxoplasmosis is best known for causing birth defects, fever, and swollen glands in people. The best way to prevent this zoonotic disease is to wash your hands really well after cleaning the litter box, don’t feed your cat raw meat, and try to clean the litterbox daily before the parasite develops.
Enough About Diseases. We Hope You Stay SafeAfter staying inside, wearing masks, and washing your hands like there’s no tomorrow, it would be heartbreaking to become sick after playing with your pet. Always remember to wash your hands after petting, scratching, and handling your dog or cat. Keep your pets’ preventative medicines and vaccines current, and teach your kids pet handling hygiene. We hope you stay healthy, happy, and having fun with your furry best buddy!
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— Meow for now —