September 30, 2011
Pets and Zoonotic diseases

Q: Can animals carry diseases I can catch?

A: Yes, they can. Diseases passed from animals to humans are called “zoonotic” diseases.

Q: Are these diseases deadly?

A: Some, such as rabies, are deadly. That is why we try to keep rabies out of SVG. Many others are not, but can still make you sick.{{more}}

Q: What is the risk that I or my children will become infected?

A: The risk is low, if you use common sense and good hygiene and keep your pet healthy.

Q: Are certain people more likely to catch these diseases and become sick?

A: Yes. People whose immune systems aren’t working normally are at higher risk of catching these diseases and becoming sick because their immune systems can’t fight off infections as well as healthy people. Very young or very old people, people with diseases such as cancer or HIV infection, and people who are receiving medical therapy or medications (such as chemotherapy or steroids) that can affect their immune systems, should be especially careful around animals.

Q: Are certain animals more likely to carry these diseases?

A: Yes, but any animal (or pet) can carry diseases if they become infected. For example, certain species of reptiles and rodents may be more likely to carry Salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause intestinal problems and other infections. Salmonella can also be carried by other animals (including dogs, cats, and horses) and people. Cats can infect people with an organism that causes toxaplasmosis, a disease that can cause problems for pregnant women or people with poorly functioning immune systems. Dog roundworms can infect people and cause skin problems, blindness, or organ damage.

Q: Should I even get a pet, if there’s any risk it could give me a disease?

A: Pets provide many benefits for people, including companionship and protection, and pet ownership is a very rewarding experience. Many pet owners consider their pets to be members of their families.

The decision to get a pet is a personal decision, and should be based on a number of factors, including your family’s lifestyle, living arrangements, and others. Although the possibility of disease is an important factor to think about, the risk is low and often considered to be outweighed by the benefits of pet ownership. Additionally, there are many simple things you can do to minimize your risk.

To be continued next week….

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981