As cuddly as your pet may be, there are a few sicknesses that can spread from felines or canines to humans and it helps to be careful. Any infection that can spread from an animal to a human is referred to as “zoonotic.” Here are the details, and how to protect both your pet and your family from these diseases.
Salmonellosis in an infection caused by salmonella bacteria; it can infect cats, dogs, and spread to people. Dogs and cats who are immune-compromised, or who are very old or very young, are most at risk of picking up this gastro-intestinal distressing bug.
Feeding your pet raw or undercooked meat can cause the infection, or they can catch the disease from another sick animal. If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea, then thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and hand-washing are all important precautions you can take to prevent the spread of the bacteria.
Toxoplasmosis, a parasite, is problematic for those with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. “Don’t clean the litterbox!” many an obstetrician has told pregnant patients who are cat-parents.
Although millions are infected and don’t even know it, Toxoplasmosis is most known to humans due to the increased risk it poses to pregnant women in the form of miscarriage or birth defects to the fetus.
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3. Cat Scratch Fever
You might have heard of Cat Scratch Fever due to the popularity of the Ted Nugent song by the same name. Also known as Cat Scratch Disease, Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the saliva of infected cats. While mostly asymptomatic in cats, swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom of the disease in people.
Cat Scratch Fever is normally mild and resolves on its own, although it’s possible to experience other symptoms such as a slight fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, rash, sore throat, or general malaise. To keep your cat from being infected, make sure you use a good flea preventative, since cats catch the disease from fleas.
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Roundworms are parasites that can infect a dog or cat’s intestinal tract and cause malnourishment as the parasites consume the pet’s food and block the intestines. Diarrhea is the most common symptom as roundworms latch onto the intestines. When the worms travel through the lungs and throat, dogs and cats can exhibit coughing.
If your pet shows symptoms, take them to the vet to get diagnosed and treated with a deworming medication. If transmitted to humans, most cases of roundworm won’t cause severe symptoms.
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Hookworms are intestinal parasites that feed off of your pet’s blood. Prevention is easy! Keep your pet on a once-monthly preventative medication like Heartgard to prevent hookworm, heartworm, and other parasites. There are some great treatments out there for hookworms if your dog or cat is already infected.
While hookworm in humans is uncommon and generally clears up on its own, it can cause an itchy skin disease called “creeping eruption” (ew!)
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Scaly or inflamed circular bald patches on your dog or cat can signal ringworm, which is actually a fungal infection. While it’s not technically serious, ringworm is highly contagious and should be treated immediately to avoid infecting other pets or people.
Has your pet ever come down with a yucky infection and then given it to you? Let us know in the comments! Prevent and treat infections by signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.