Pets as Carriers: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases and How to Stay Healthy
Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can be passed from pets to people and are more common than you may think. Your pet may appear to be perfectly healthy, but they can be carrying a transmissible condition, so stay up to date on their preventive care to avoid contracting various illnesses.
How can my pet pass diseases to me?
Pets can pass germs to people in a variety of ways, including through:
- Direct contact — Direct contact with saliva, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily fluids from an infected pet can result in the transmission of disease. If you clean up your pet’s accident inside, or they lick a sore on your leg, you can contract an illness.
- Indirect contact — Indirect disease transmission occurs when you come in contact with something an infected pet has contaminated. For example, if your child digs in their sandbox after a stray cat has used it as a litter box, they may contract a roundworm infection.
- Vectors — Vectors, like ticks and fleas, can be attracted to your pet and be carried indoors to bite and transmit disease to you.
- Food — Undercooked meat or eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected pet, are some of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses in people and their pets.
- Water — Drinking or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated with feces or urine can result in diseases such as giardia or leptospirosis being passed to you.
What diseases can I get from my pet?
Numerous illnesses can be passed from pets to people through:
- Bacteria (leptospirosis, salmonella, E. coli, tick-borne disease, cat scratch disease)
- Viruses (rabies)
- Fungi (ringworm)
- Intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, toxoplasma)
- External parasites (scabies, fleas, ticks)
This list is by no means exhaustive, so always practice good hygiene when handling your pet, their waste, and their belongings to prevent disease transmission.
Pets can pass a multitude of pathogens and parasites to their human and animal family members. The best way to protect everyone in your household—two- and four-legged members alike—is through regular preventive care. Give our team a call to schedule your pet’s preventive care visit to keep everyone safe and healthy.