We love our pets like a part of the family, and welcome them
into just about every part of our homes, from our kitchen
to our bedrooms. Of course, pets bring great joy to their
owners and typically are very safe to live with.
Pets are generally very safe to live with, but it's
important to know the potential risks (especially if
you fall into one of the higher risk categories below).
There are, however, some diseases that humans can contract
from animals, including their pets; these are known as zoonoses.
Most people have little risk of contracting these illnesses,
but you may be at a slightly higher risk if you:
Have a compromised immune system
Have AIDS/HIV or are undergoing chemotherapy
Have received an organ or bone marrow transplant
Are pregnant (as fetus' immune systems are not fully
Potential Health Risks of Different Pets
Different animals carry different, albeit small, risks to
their owners. Here we've described the potential dangers surrounding
some of the most popular pets.
Dog feces can transmit a number of bacteria and parasites
to people, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, cryptosporidia,
Giardia, Salmonella and Campylobacter. You can minimize this
risk by keeping your pet and your pet's environment clean
using the commercial-grade PerfectClean
terry cloths, which have patented built-in antimicrobial
protection, and are able to pick up contaminants that can't
be seen with the naked eye.
Meanwhile, you can further reduce your risk by only getting
dogs that are older than 9 months (puppies are more likely
to harbor diseases) and having their stool tested by a veterinarian.
Cats are also generally very safe pets, but they can transmit
several diseases via feces, scratches or bites. These include
Cat Scratch Disease and Bacillary Angiomatosis (BA), bacterial
infections (Salmonella and Campylobacter), some intestinal
parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, hookworms, and roundworms),
and, in very rare cases, plague.
There is also a rare risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection
caused by a parasite. Though toxoplasmosis generally only
causes mild symptoms in healthy adults, it is a risk to pregnant
women because it can cause birth defects and miscarriages.
People can rarely contract toxoplasmosis by coming into contact
with cat feces, but, much more commonly, they acquire toxoplasmosis
by eating undercooked meat and unwashed fruits or vegetables,
or by accidental ingestion of contaminated soil when gardening.
You can drastically reduce your risk of contracting an illness
from your cat by keeping it indoors only (many of the diseases
are contracted when your cat eats a rodent or other animal
Keep Your Home -- and Your Pets --
cloths, mitts, and dusters are the preferred choice
in hospitals, schools and other commercial organizations
because they clean down to a microscopic level. Now
these amazing cleaning tools are available for you to
use in your own home, and they're even gentle enough
to use on your pet!
out more about the cleaning power of PerfectClean now!
Diseases that humans can potentially catch from birds include
Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC, a disease similar to tuberculosis),
parrot fever, Cryptococus and Salmonella. These can be contracted
by coming into contact with bird droppings and nasal discharge,
or by breathing dried, powdered droppings.
You can reduce the risks of these diseases by keeping your
bird clean (and changing the bird's cage liner daily) and
People can potentially contact mycobacterial infections (a
type of tuberculosis) and some skin infections by coming into
contact with infected fish and/or aquarium water.
Wearing gloves while cleaning the tank and handling fish
will help to reduce your risk.
Intestinal parasites in young ferrets can be potentially
spread to humans. Meanwhile, ferrets can catch the human flu,
and then pass it back to its owner. Keeping your ferret clean
and healthy will help to reduce any risks.
Rabbits and Rodents
Most rabbits carry pasteurella bacteria, which can infect
any human scratches or bites. Meanwhile, rabbits can potentially
transfer parasites such as fur mites and ringworm to humans.
Rodents (guinea pigs, mice, and rats) can occasionally transmit
a variety of intestinal ailments to humans, including some
bacterial infections (Salmonella and Campylobacter) and intestinal
Keeping your pet clean and healthy, and washing your hands
after handling them, will reduce your risks.
Snakes, turtles, lizards and other reptiles can transmit
salmonella to humans through handling (reptiles can carry
salmonella all over their bodies).
You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling
a reptile and never wash it in your kitchen sink or bathtub.
Finally, remember that pets generally pose few risks to healthy
people, yet can provide many
positive benefits to your physical health and well-being.
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FDA News April 6, 2007