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Nov 11

10 Tips To Avoid Catching Diseases from Pets

avoid catching diseases from petsI’ve always considered my pets to be part of my family. Whether it was a parakeet, long-haired guinea pigs, turtles, fish, dwarf rabbits, or the multitude of cats and dogs that have shared my homes over the years, they brightened my life and hopefully I did the same for them. But just like kids, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, pets can get, carry, and transmit organisms that cause disease.

Naturally, if you take the necessary steps to ensure your pets are healthy, you significantly reduce the chances you will be on the receiving end of nasty bacteria, viruses, parasites, or protozoa. However, as with people, such pathogens can slip past even the most vigilant efforts. Catching diseases from pets can be a mild to serious matter, depending on the disease and the person’s state of health. Infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with a compromised immune system are most at risk of acquiring animal-borne (zoonotic) diseases.

According to a recent review of more than 500 studies worldwide of how people can reduce the risk of catching diseases from pets, roundworms, salmonella, and E. coli are among the nearly 20 different diseases that people most often acquire from their pets. Others include toxoplasmosis, bartonellosis (cat scratch fever), ringworm, and psittacosis (parrot fever). Every species carries different types of diseases at various times during their lives.

How to avoid catching diseases from pets

To help avoid contracting these or other health challenges from Duke, Fluffy, Polly, or Nemo, here are 10 tips to avoid catching diseases from pets. These tips are especially important for anyone who plans to introduce a pet into a household in which one or more people has a compromised immune system because of cancer, HIV, organ transplant, or similar situation, or severe allergies.avoid catching diseases from pets

  • Talk to your doctor about any health concerns for you or family members, such as allergies or a compromised immune system
  • Consult a veterinarian or other animal expert before acquiring a pet. You may need to talk to an exotic animal vet or professional if you are looking to add a reptile, amphibian, special fish, or tropical bird to your family.
  • Educate yourself about the potential health problems associated with the pet(s) you are considering and the various ways it’s possible to contract a disease. This can include doing your own research as well as consulting with a vet or other professional.
  • Wear protective gloves whenever you clean cages, litter boxes, and aquariums to remove feces
  • Wash your hands after handling your pets
  • Gently prevent pets from licking your face. Kisses from puppies and kittens are cute, but they can carry unwanted organisms
  • Clean up after your dog in your yard as well as when taking him or her for a walk. Dog poop is a health hazard for both people and dogs.
  • Keep litter boxes far away from areas where food is prepared and consumed
  • Clean and disinfect animal cages, bedding, feeding areas, and litter box areas regularly
  • Be especially vigilant about washing your hands after touching amphibians and reptiles, such as frogs, salamanders, lizards, and turtles, because they naturally harbor salmonella in their digestive system.

Our furry, feathered, hairy, and scaly companions provide so many emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. To help ensure that’s all we share with them, take steps to avoid catching diseases from pets.

Also Read about: Cats as pet therapy

How to deal with a stressed cat

Reference

Stull JW et al. Reducing the risk of pet-associated zoonotic infections. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2015 Jul 14; 187(10) 736-43

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