Infectious Disease Control
Pets provide many benefits to humans. They comfort us and they give us companionship. However, some animals can also pass diseases to people. These diseases are called zoonotic diseases. Your veterinarian is dedicated to providing you with information about the health-related risks of owning and caring for animals and preventing zoonotic diseases. Pets can appear to be healthy even when they have germs. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family healthy.
- Households with children under 5 years of age should not own reptiles, such as turtles, or amphibians, such as frogs.
- Pregnant women should avoid contact with pet rodents to prevent exposure to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which is a virus that can cause birth defects.
- Pregnant women should avoid adopting or handling stray cats, especially kittens. They particularly should not clean litter boxes to avoid getting toxoplasmosis from them.
- Immune-compromised persons and persons with HIV infection or AIDS should take extra precautions when choosing and handling pets. Talk to your veterinarian and health care provider to help make this decision.
Adults should assist young children with hand washing. Running water and soap are best for hand washing. Use hand sanitizers if running water and soap are not available. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.
Call your healthcare provider if you or a family member are concerned about illness and be sure to tell them about the pets you have contact with.
Contact your pet’s veterinarian if you are concerned that your pet may be sick.
Many pets, such as dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, and birds, carry germs that can be spread from animals to people. Always wash hands upon leaving areas where animals live (i.e. coops. barns, stalls, etc.) even if you did not touch an animal, after going to the toilet, before eating and drinking, before preparing food or drinks, and after removing soiled clothes or shoes.
It is also important to wash your hands right after handling pet foods and treats, which can be contaminated with bacteria and other germs. Pet food and treats might include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles.
Your pet may carry ticks that can spread serious diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to people. In areas with plague, fleas present a risk to both animals and their owners. Consult your veterinarian about ways to prevent ticks and fleas on your pet.