2001-Sun Jul 22 02:42:06 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Parasitic diseases are among the most frequently occurring zoonotic diseases in pets, and they’re the most likely to infect average suburban Americans. The most common intestinal parasite in dogs and cats, the roundworm (Toxocara spp.), can pose a threat to children. Infected dogs and cats shed Toxocara eggs in their feces. People can be infected by accidentally consuming the eggs. Kids playing in dirt or sand might ingest Toxocara eggs, so pay special attention to sandboxes and make sure they are covered when not in use. Once in the body, roundworms in the larval stage migrate through tissues and organs, including the eyes. Roundworms can cause injury, even blindness.
People also get infected with zoonotic diseases through skin contact with parasites. For example, a larval-stage hookworm (Ancylostoma spp.), a common intestinal parasite of cats and dogs, can bore through skin and cause an itchy rash. Cat Scratch disease organisms (Bartonella henselae) are found in flea feces, and when those feces get into the body through scratches, bites or wounds, the organism can cause full-blown illness, including fevers and swollen glands. (Kittens are most frequently associated with transmission of this disease, so effective flea control at an early age is essential.)
Another way zoonotic diseases are passed is when people are exposed to infectious agents by eating contaminated food or undercooked meat and thus accidentally ingesting materials like feces-contaminated dust, dirt or even water. It’s alarmingly easy to consume parasite eggs. The eggs are very tiny and can easily become airborne during any activity that exposes fecal material, such as digging in the soil. These airborne particles can land on the mouth or be present in dirt that gets rubbed across the face and then swallowed. No one willingly eats animal poop, but statistics show about 15 percent of Americans have been exposed to roundworms — meaning they accidentally ate parasite eggs.
Zoonotic diseases also can occur through “bug” bites, such as when a tick carrying the infectious agent that causes Lyme disease bites you or your dog. This method of transmission — tick as delivery service — is the hallmark of what’s called a vector-borne disease. You cannot get Lyme disease from pets; instead, pets can increase exposure to infected ticks by carrying “hitchhiker” ticks into the home. These ticks may introduce the Lyme disease organism to your family. Ticks and fleas carry many potentially harmful organisms, and when they bite, they’re often leaving more than just an unpleasant presence.
Take these precautions during warm-weather activities and throughout the year to help keep your family safe from zoonotic diseases.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.