8 Disgusting Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pet & How To Prevent Them

Did you know that a couple of years ago, a rare strain of bacteria called Salmonella Cotham affected 160 people, causing them to vomit, have diarrhea, and fever? It reached a point where even sixty-one people were hospitalized. And the culprit behind this was none other than bearded dragon lizards bought from pet stores across 36 states.

However, not only exotic pets can make people sick. According to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, every pet carries something that can be transmitted to people, and everyone runs the risk of being infected. Infections are more common and severe in people with weakened immune systems, like children, pregnant women, cancer patients, and elderly people.

Unfortunately, since doctors do not regularly ask about pet contact or the risk of zoonotic diseases with patients, they and the patients are largely unaware of the risks that pets can present. Thus, it would be a good idea for doctors to work closely with veterinarians in order to recognize when a pet’s the reason behind a patient’s health problems, and point out how to prevent infection.

Thus, if you already own a pet, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the risk of catching some nasty bug from your best friend:

  • Always wash your hands after touching your pet.
  • Wear gloves when you’re cleaning up after it.
  • Wash out scratches or bites immediately.
  • Don’t allow your dog to eat garbage or drink from the toilet.
  • If your pet’s healthy, you will be too.

Here are the most common pet-borne infections, ranging from mild to deadly (in very rare cases).

Capnocytophaga canimorsus (Not Shown)

It’s a known fact that C. canimorsus lives in the saliva of dogs and cats. According to a study, the bacterium was discovered in 57 percent of cats and 74 percent of dogs. Human infections are truly rare, but when C. Canimorsus does infect humans, it can be deadly. While it’s usually spread through scratches and bites, some people contract it just by being around pets. Symptoms include shock, blood poisoning, meningitis, or respiratory distress.

Prevention: Immediately use antiseptics and antibiotics to wash bites and scratches.

Bartonella Henselae (Cat Scratch Disease)

If your cat scratches you or bites you, it could help get this bacteria under your skin. Cat scratch disease, or Bartonellosis, usually causes swelling, fatigue, lymph node swelling and fever in patients. It can be treated with antibiotics, but those with weakened immune systems should be careful as they can sustain serious complications.

Prevention: In order to prevent this infection, you should wash bites and scratches immediately with antibiotics and antiseptics.

Campylobacter jejuni

This bacteria might seem like a spiral-shaped macaroni, but you definitely do not want to have it in your organism. Campylobacter jejuni is known as one of the most common causes of food poisoning. It’s usually spread through improperly cooked meats, but it’s also present in the feces of dogs and cats, where it can spread to people.

Prevention: Wash your hands before eating.

Brucella Canis

  1. canis causes stillbirths and miscarriages in dogs, and is spread through urine, vaginal secretions and potentially saliva. Those who were infected by it experience fatigue, fever, weight loss as well as swelling of lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. It’s a rare disease in humans, but mainly underdiagnosed.

Prevention: Always wash your hands after touching your pet.

Chlamydophila psittaci

psittaci lives in the feces and snot of pet birds. If inhaled by humans, symptoms can range from a headache to fever, chills or pneumonia. Rarely, it can also lead to arthritis, hepatitis and respiratory failure.
Prevention: Try to wear a mask and glove when you’re cleaning your bird’s cage and clean it daily.
Leptospira interrogans

 

This bacteria shaped like a spiral resides in the urine of many pets and can find its way into the bloodstream through your skin. From there, L. interrogans can cause vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. If it’s not treated, the infection leads to meningitis, liver failure, kidney damage and even death.

Prevention: Do not swim in water that cats, dogs or rodents may have peed in and try to avoid their urine.

Toxoplasma gondii

CDC has reported that more than 60 million people in the USA may be infected with this parasite, which is commonly spread through cat feces, soil, and uncooked meat. Most peoples’ immune systems are able to protect themselves against this illness. But, people whose immune systems are somewhat compromised, like pregnant women, can experience damage to the brain, eyes and other organs. Some of the symptoms include muscle aches, blurred vision and flu-like symptoms.

Prevention: Try to change your cat’s litter box each day. While you’re doing it, use gloves and wash your hands immediately after that. Also, keep your cat indoors and don’t touch stray cats.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis

This virus can be carried by hamsters, mice or other rodents. Humans can become infected if urine, droppings, or saliva come into contact with the nose, mouth, eyes or broken skin. Their infection usually starts with mild symptoms like fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, and then it escalates to inflammation of the heart and brain, leading to temporary or permanent neurological damage. It can become extremely dangerous in pregnant women and immunocompromised people, but it’s not fatal in most cases.

Prevention: Always wash your hands after cleaning rodent cages and their bedding.

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