Any human in contact with an infected animal or disease vector, a disease carrier that spreads the disease from an infected animal to an uninfected human. Some humans are more at risk than others:
- 1. Infants and Small Children
They have immature immune systems, and often poor hygiene.
- 2. Adults
Adults at risk have close physical contact with household animals and behaviors that include pica (the persistent craving and compulsive eating of non-food substances) and exploration of the environment through mouthing. In general they have more poor hygiene.
- 3. Pregnant Women
Their immune systems are more susceptible and there are additional fetal hazards.
- 4. The Elderly
They also usually have weaker immune systems.
- 5. Immunocompromised People or AIDs Patients
They are also at greater risk and need to take extra precautions.
- 6. Veterinarians
Zoo/wildlife and other animal health care workers.
A wide range of pets, including fish, puppies, and kittens are kept around the world for companionship as well as therapeutic value. This means that we need to take precautions to protect ourselves now more than ever, to ensure public health from the potential risk of zoonotic diseases.
Here are some of the more common diseases that can be transmitted from pets to humans. Most are mild, but some are serious.
An infection caused by the parasitic roundworms found in the intestine of dogs. It is extremely prevalent in puppies because they acquire infections from their mothers, which transfer larvae prenatally or from their milk. Unless treatments are administered before 4 weeks of age, puppies will contaminate the environment, because female worms become fully mature and produce eggs when puppies are 3 weeks of age. The eggs can remain in most environments for months or even years. The two major forms of Toxocara are Occular larva Migrans (OLM) and Visceral larva migrans (VLM). OLM is an eye disease that can cause blindness. VLM is more rare, but can cause serious damage to the nervous system and organs.
Treatment: Treat your puppy before 4 weeks of age. You can choose form various dewormers to get rid of various types of worms in your pet.
This is caused by a parasite found in animal feces. Most people who become infected are not aware of it. Some people may feel flu-like symptoms for a month or more; however, it can be serious for immune compromised people, pregnant women, and small children. You can get this by handling cat feces but also from eating raw meat or even gardening.
Prevention: Wash your hands after you come in contact with these things. Also, don’t let your cat eat raw meat. Keep it indoors to prevent it from eating small animals.
Ringworm is a contagious fungus infection that can affect the scalp, the body, the feet, and the nails. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person's skin. Many different kinds of animals can transmit ringworm to people. It is transmitted from direct contact with an infected animal's skin or hair. Dogs and cats, especially kittens or puppies, can infect humans with ringworm. Larger animals, such as cows and horses can infect humans as well. People can also get ringworm from contact with other people and their personal items.
Treatment and Prevention: Keep surfaces clean and disinfected regularly. Wash children’s hands after contact with a pet. You can also use an antifungal to eliminate Ringworm.
These worms are spaghetti-like worms found in infected cat and dog feces. In humans, they can cause fever, cough, loss of appetite, and congestion. Never touch feces with your bare hands.
Treatment: To get rid of these worms, there are various dewormers available.
Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that attaches to the inside of the intestinal wall and literally drains the blood from the host animal. It is an extremely common parasite seen in the majority of all puppies that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stools, anemia and even death. They may penetrate the skin of human and cat and dog hosts. When people have contact with soil or sand contaminated by the feces of dogs and cats infected with hookworms, they can develop progressive linear eruptive lesions, a syndrome called cutaneous larva migrans, or creeping eruption.
Treatment and Prevention: Deworming puppies, kittens, and their mothers is the most effective method to avert disease in pets and prevent environmental contamination because they have the highest worm burdens, are the most vulnerable to the ill effects of these infections, and are the main sources of infective stages. Preventive treatments in puppies and kittens must begin soon after birth. There are several anthelmintic drugs that are safe and effective against roundworms, hookworms, and other intestinal helminthes of dogs and cats.
Deworming Puppies: Start 2 weeks of age, repeat 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age.
Deworming Kittens: Start at 6 weeks of age, repeat 8 and 10 weeks of age.
Although more than 100 zoonotic infections exist, the most common culprits are bite-related, gastrointestinal, and skin-related diseases.
As a general rule, zoonotic diseases are more commonly encountered in children because they may provoke biting or scratching, go barefoot during warm weather, and may not wash their hands after handling household pets.
Biting and Scratching:
According to MerialEDU, July 2005; more than 1 million animal bites occur each year in the US, with half of them serious enough to warrant medical evaluation and treatment. The majority of victims are children. Dogs are responsible for 80% of reported bites, cats for 10%, and the remainder are due to household lizards, ferrets, rabbits, and other small animals. More cat bites become infected than dog bites. Dog bites cause tearing injuries, which can be more easily irrigated, while cat bites usually produce deep puncture wounds, which are more likely to become infected.
Cat Scratch Fever
This bacterial disease is spread by cat scratches and bites. The bacteria that causes the disease is found in the fleas that inhabit cats which is passed on to the cat through the flea bites. The most common symptom is swollen glands under the neck. There may also be a low grade fever and flu symptoms with weakness, nausea, chills, loss of appetite and a headache. Kittens are more likely to carry it than older cats.
Prevention: If your cat scratches or bites you, wash the wounds with disinfectant soap and hot water. Also, keep your pets free of fleas. The fleas are what carry the bacteria initially that is passed on to the animal and then to the human.
These infections result from the ingestion of contaminated food or water or from the exposure to feces of infected humans or animals, including household dogs, cats, birds, and hamsters. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Puppies sometimes carry this bacteria in their stool.
Prevention: Clean up stool carefully with pooper scoopers and bags, and never touch it with your hands.
This is one of the most common intestinal parasite found in people and usually causes diarrhea in people and animals. This disease can be transmitted to people from other people, or from wild or domesticated animal, most commonly from contaminated water. The symptoms may last weeks, and infected people may be contagious for months.
A bacteria in dog and cat urine that can cause flu-like symptoms or more serious illnesses. It is spread mainly through ingestion and through contamination of cuts and abrasions by the urine of infected animals and is usually not transmitted from person to person. Direct contact with animal urine is a risk. Indirect contact from water that has been contaminated with urine is also a risk.
Prevention: Wash your hands after handling pets and prevent pets from drinking contaminated water.
A bacteria found in fish and aquarium water. Exposure can result in swollen lymph glands in kids or more serious illnesses for the immune compromised.
This is a bacterial disease carried in the feces of cats, dogs, and horses. In humans, it can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Prevention: Always wash your hands after handling animals.
This bacteria, which is passed through animal feces, can cause diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. The organisms most likely to carry salmonella include poultry, livestock, reptiles, and pets. Although most frequently transmitted from contaminated food or water, occasional transmission occurs from infected people as well as from pets, especially reptiles such as iguanas, turtles, and geckos.
Prevention: Wash your hands thoroughly after handling pets or aquariums. Don’t let children kiss their pets. Attack rates for nontyphodial salmonella infections are highest in children and the elderly.
This infection is caused by the mite, while S. scabiei, subspecies canis, is acquired from dogs. A typical rash will usually appear. In dogs, the canis mite produces a skin infection called mange, and these dog owners should be advised to seek medical attention if they develop any suspicious rashes.