Can Your Pet Make You Sick?


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Everyone knows that pets carry bacteria and diseases, but not many people know that pets can actually spread those diseases to humans. Most healthy people won’t pick up any bacterial infections, but people with a weakened immune system, such as children, pregnant women and seniors, are more vulnerable to catching an infection from animals. Here is what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Dogs, cats, hamsters and turtles all make great pets, but they can also potentially transmit salmonella and c-diff. And that’s not all.

“There are about 250 diseases that people can catch from animals.” Robert Hess, Jr. a Veterinarian at Winter Park Veterinary Hospital explained to Ivanhoe.

One that is particularly dangerous Dr. Hess said was, “Toxoplasmosis, which is a disease that women can get if they are pregnant and affect the embryo, comes from cats and cat stool.”

The condition can cause blindness or mental disability in infected newborns later in life. Dr. Hess has precautions that people can take to reduce their risk of infections.

“When they pet their dogs, don’t let it lick them in the face.”  Dr. Hess stated.

Next, always wash your hands after handling your pet, their food and their treats. Also take your pet to the vet for regular checkups and to test for any diseases. Finally, be sure to tell your vet your health issues. People with compromised immune systems may be advised to give away their pets, but some vets may be able to give you further precautions to take so you can be allowed to keep your fury critter.

Humans can also transmit infections, such as c-diff or tuberculosis to their pets. And be careful when giving your pet raw meat or table scraps.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #2384

BACKGROUND: Pets are man’s best friend, but sometimes they can be their worst enemy too. There are about 250 infectious diseases that can be transmitted from an animal to a person, and some of these can come from your pet. Even though getting a disease from a pet is uncommon, there are certain types of people who are more prone to catching a disease: children, pregnant women and seniors.


COMMON DISEASES: Toxoplasmosis, a disease women can get if they’re pregnant, can cause blindness or mental disability in infected newborns later in life. The disease can come from contaminated cat feces, so use precaution if you’re pregnant by avoiding direct contact with cat litter or by washing your hands after contact with the litter. Rabies is a disease that affects the nervous system and it can be fatal. Symptoms can start with a headache and fever and then progress to agitation, sleepiness and confusion. Although it is most commonly transmitted through a wild animal, your pet can also be the cause for this disease. Reduce the risk of rabies by:

  • Keeping vaccinations up to date.
  • Keep pets away from wild animals.
  • Having animal control remove any stray animals.
  • Notify your doctor right away if you are bitten.

Salmonella infection caused by bacteria as well as intestinal parasites such as hookworm and roundworm, can be passed through your pets stool. To avoid contamination, don’t walk barefoot outside and wear gloves when gardening. Pets can also get ringworm and it is very contagious and can be transmitted to humans. Rringworm causes a ring-shaped, reddish rash on the skin.  It may be itchy, dry and scaly or wet and crusty. If a family member gets ringworm:

  • apply an over-the-counter antifungal and consult a doctor if there is no improvement
  • Wash sheets daily and pajamas of the infected family member
  • Avoid direct contact until the ringworm is gone
  • Keep animals off your bed
  • Keep your skin clean and dry.


* For More Information, Contact:

Robert Hess Jr, DVM

Winter Park Veterinary Hospital

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