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Pets as Carriers: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases and How to Stay Healthy

Zoonotic diseases are more common than you may think, and they are illnesses that can be passed from pets to people. Even if your pet appears to be perfectly healthy, they can still carry transmissible conditions. It’s crucial to stay up to date on your pet’s preventive care to avoid contracting various illnesses.

At Chatham’s Small Animal Hospital, we understand the importance of educating pet owners about zoonotic diseases. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

How can your pet pass diseases to you?

Pets can transmit germs to people in several ways, including:

  • Direct contact: Coming into direct contact with an infected pet’s saliva, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily fluids can result in disease transmission. For instance, cleaning up your pet’s accident indoors or having them lick a sore on your leg can lead to illness.
  • Indirect contact: Indirect disease transmission occurs when you come into contact with something that an infected pet has contaminated. For example, if a stray cat uses your child’s sandbox as a litter box and your child plays there afterward, they may contract a roundworm infection.
  • Vectors: Vectors such as ticks and fleas can be attracted to your pet and then carried indoors. If these parasites bite you, they can transmit diseases.
  • Food: Consuming undercooked meat or eggs, or consuming raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected pet, can be one of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses in both people and pets.
  • Water: Drinking or coming into contact with water that has been contaminated with feces or urine can result in the transmission of diseases such as giardia or leptospirosis.

What diseases can you get from your pet?

Pets can pass on numerous illnesses to people, including:

  • Bacteria: Diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonella, E. coli, tick-borne diseases, and cat scratch disease can be transmitted from pets to humans.
  • Viruses: Rabies is a well-known viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through a bite or scratch from an infected animal.
  • Fungi: Ringworm, a fungal infection, can be transmitted from pets to humans.
  • Intestinal parasites: Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, and toxoplasma are examples of intestinal parasites that can be passed from pets to people.
  • External parasites: Scabies, fleas, and ticks are external parasites that can carry diseases and transmit them to humans.

This list is not exhaustive, so it’s important to always practice good hygiene when handling your pet, cleaning up after them, and handling their belongings to prevent the transmission of diseases.

To protect everyone in your household, both the two-legged and four-legged members, it’s essential to prioritize regular preventive care for your pet. By scheduling your pet’s preventive care visit with our dedicated team at Chatham’s Small Animal Hospital, you can ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy.

Give us a call today to schedule your pet’s preventive care visit and take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. Together, we can create a healthier environment for both you and your beloved pets.