Friday, September 29, 2023
HomeHealthMay I Kiss My Pet? Don't go by their cuteness, if...

May I Kiss My Pet? Don’t go by their cuteness, if kissed you will invite these dangerous diseases and Infecton, take these precautions

Who is at high risk of serious illness from zoonotic diseases? (People at Higher Risk for Illness from Animals)

Our pets can also harbor infectious diseases (Infections That Pets Can Spread) which can sometimes reach us as well. For most people, the risk is low. But pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of getting sick from animals. Hence, it is important to know the risks and take necessary precautions to prevent infection.

What diseases can be carried by pets? (Most Common Infectious Diseases From Your Pets)

Infectious diseases that spread from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases or zoonoses. It is known that more than 70 germs can spread to people from animals that live together.

Sometimes, a pet that has a zoonotic pathogen may seem ill. But often there may be no visible symptoms, putting you at increased risk of becoming infected, as you may not suspect your pet is harboring the germ.

Zoonoses can be transmitted directly from pets to humans, such as through contact with saliva, bodily fluids, and feces, or indirectly, such as through contact with contaminated bedding, soil, food, or water.

Studies show that the prevalence of zoonoses associated with pets is low. However, the true number of infections is likely underestimated because many zoonoses are not ‘notifiable’, or they may have multiple exposure pathways or common characteristics.

Dogs and cats are prime havens for genotic infections (meaning microbes naturally living in their population) caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. In endemic areas of Africa and Asia, dogs are the main source of rabies which is transmitted through saliva.

Capnocytophaga bacteria commonly live in the dog’s mouth and saliva, which can be spread to people through close contact or bites. Most people will not get sick, but these bacteria can sometimes cause infection in people with weakened immune systems, which can result in serious illness and in some cases, death. Just last week the news of such a death had come in Western Australia.

Cat-associated zoonoses include several diseases spread by the fecal-oral route, such as giardiasis, campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, and toxoplasmosis. This means that it is especially important to wash your hands or use gloves when handling your cat’s litter tray.

Cats can also sometimes spread the infection through bites and scratches.

Dogs and cats are both reservoirs of the methicillin-resistant bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), with close contact with pets recognized as a significant risk factor for zoonotic transmission.

Birds, turtles and fish can also spread the disease.

But only dogs and cats cannot spread diseases to humans. Pet birds can sometimes spread psittacosis. This is a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia. Exposure to pet turtles has been linked to salmonella infection in humans, especially young children. Even pet fish have been linked to a variety of bacterial infections in humans, including vibriosis, mycobacteriosis, and salmonellosis.

Close contact with animals and especially certain behaviors increase the risk of zoonotic transmission. A study from the Netherlands found that half of owners allowed pets to lick their faces, and 18 percent allowed dogs to share their bed. (Bed sharing increases the duration of exposure to pathogens brought by pets.) The same study found that 45 percent of cat owners allowed their cat to jump up and down on the kitchen sink.

Kissing pets has also sometimes been linked to zoonotic infections in pet owners. In one case, a woman in Japan developed meningitis caused by Pasteurella multocida infection after regularly kissing her dog’s face.

Young children are also more likely to engage in behaviors that increase their risk of getting sick from animal-borne diseases—such as putting their hands in their mouths after touching pets. Even children do not wash their hands properly after touching pets.

However, anyone who comes into contact with a zoonotic germ through their pet can become sick. Some people are more likely to suffer from serious illness. These people include the young, the old, the pregnant and those with weak immunity.

What should you do if you are worried about your pet contracting a disease? (How do you prevent pets from getting infected?)

If you follow some rules related to cleanliness and keeping pets, then your risk of getting sick can be reduced. This includes:

-Wash your hands after playing with your pet and handling their bedding, toys, or cleaning up feces.

-Don’t let your pet lick your face or wound area

-Supervising small children when they are playing with pets and when washing their hands after playing with pets

-Wear gloves when changing litter trays or cleaning the aquarium

-Wet bird cage surfaces when cleaning to reduce aerosols

-Keeping pets away from the kitchen (especially cats who can jump on food preparation surfaces).

-Keep up to date with preventive veterinary care, including vaccinations and deworming

-If you think your pet is unwell, seek veterinary care.

It is especially important for people who are at high risk of disease to take precautions to reduce exposure to zoonotic germs. If you are thinking about adopting a pet, ask your veterinarian about what type of animal would best suit your individual circumstances.

(Disclaimer: This content provides general information only including advice. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult an expert or your doctor for more details. . does.)

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