Hidden dangers from our pets
When your pet passes a condition they are suffering from to a human it is called Zoonosis. There are a number of infections that can be spread between pet and owner, these include viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungal infections.
This blog is in no way to panic you but being in the know will help you prevent any spread.
These conditions can be spread in a variety of ways including skin to skin and ingestion. Most of these conditions are easy to treat but others can be life threatening.
Despite there being may conditions that can be spread between us and out pets, don't panic. Common sense precautions can keep us safe. Personal hygiene such as washing hands after touching our pets and before eating can greatly reduce the chance for catching something contagious.
Some people are more at risk from zoonotic conditions as their immune system is compromised. Pregnancy, illness, old age , poor health , chemo treatment and young age can all make people more vulnerable to these conditions.
Here are some of the main zoonotic conditions along with signs, symptoms and how they are spread.
Ringworm is in fact not actually a worm, it is a fungal infection! It forms a red ring like rash in humans along with itching, flaking of the skin. It occurs in dogs, cats, kittens and farm animals. It spreads by skin contact with an infected animal . It is easily treated with anti-fungal cream.
Toxicara is a round worm that can occur in dogs and cats.If a human catches it from their pet there are a number of outcomes
The body copes with the infection and no symptoms are ever seen.
The early stages of the worms lifecycle can go to organs such as the liver.
The worm larvae can travel to the eye.
A combination of the 2 above.
This round worm is spread in poo, children and elderly are more at risk. To prevent spread always wash hands after dealing with poo or the dogs bedding, don't let your children eat dirt and touch unhygienic things in places where animals may have used the bathroom. Always encourage responsible dog ownership and pick up poo and worm your pets regularly.
Tape worm can affect cats and dogs. Infection in humans is uncommon but can be serious.The worm larvae can infect organs and form cysts. These cysts can need surgically removed. To prevent spread make sure your pets are regularly wormed and make sure to carry out good hygiene.
Cats play an important part in the spread of toxoplasmosis. Cats are initially infected from eating infected birds or rodents and then eggs are passed in the faeces.People can become infected when cleaning up faeces or touching anything it may have contaminated and then accidental ingestion. If a pregnant female becomes contaminated then the infection can be passed to the unborn child. This can cause the child severe consequences such as conditions with the nervous system and eyes.
Dogs and cats both carry fleas which can be passed to us. Their bite is usually harmless and doesn't need medical attention. The bites appear as small red, itchy lumps.Once fleas have invaded the house it can take a bit of effort to get rid of them as the eggs are quite resistant to the environment. I would recommend getting regular flea treatment for your pets from your vet, The treatment they provide can often cover ticks, lice and round worm too.
This is a bacteria which is a very common cause of food poisoning. Both us and out pets can get it from eating undercooked meat that is contaminated. Our pets can also pick it up from dirty water. If your pet is contaminated it is possible to spread to humans, though not common. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, tummy ache and dehydration.
Supportive treatment is required such as rest and fluids and bland food, if symptoms don't improve then your vet/ doctor may give a course of antibiotics.
This is a microscopic bug that infects the guts. It is spread by water and soil that are contaminated with the eggs. An infection causes fever, watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss. This condition mainly occurs in puppies and younger dogs. It is more common for children to be affected or people immunocompromised. Symptomatic treatment is given and unfortunately the condition can last a few weeks.
To prevent spread personal hygiene is very important.
This bug is present in the environment, food and guts. Only a few strains of it cause serious illness. Most at risk are puppies, children and older people and dogs. The illness can affect the bowels, lungs, urinary tract and other areas of the body. It is the most common cause of food poisoning.
Prevention is mainly from good hygiene particularly when dealing with food.
Cat scratch disease
This is an infectious disease which is spread by a cat scratch or bite. The affected area can become painful and swollen and a blister may form, glands may become swollen also. Affected people can become tired with a headache and fever, this can happen 3-14 days after the scratch or bite. This condition can lead to potentially serious conditions like swelling on the brain. It is treated with antibiotics and supportive care.
The most important way to prevent this is with good flea control measures as flea transfer this bacteria between cats.
Infections via dog and cat bites is the most common form of this disease in humans. The bite or scratch can develop into a serious soft tissue infection and can form abscesses, meningitis, and respiratory infections. If you are bitten by your pet always clean very well, antibiotics should be taken from your doctor.
How to reduce transmission of these infections
If your pet is unwell get them checked by your vet
Bathe and groom your dog and check for skin irritations
Always keep up to date with worming treatment.
Wear gloves when working in the garden or where your pet may have urinated or pooed.
Always pick up pet faeces and wash your hand properly.
Don't let your pet lick children's faces
Wash hands after handling animals
Wash pet bedding frequently