Infections Transferred by Pets and How to Treat Them

In addition to joy and a lot of fun, pets (in case of improper care) can give a man a lot of serious diseases. The veterinarians of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)  will share their knowledge about which illnesses are the most dangerous, how to recognize them in time or not get infected at all.

Toxoplasmosis

This is a parasitic (in some cases occurring in an animal with neurological symptoms) disease that is caused by parasites of animal origin. A person becomes infected only in the acute phase of an animal’s disease. This is approximately 3 weeks from the time of illness. Usually this stage is accompanied by pet’s diarrhea. Along with feces, a cat releases a parasite into the external environment, where it needs a short time to mature. Within a few days, it matures and becomes contagious.

Infections Transferred by Pets

How infection occurs

Infection occurs when a person (intermediate host) swallows a mature parasite egg, the oocyst. Then, through the intestines, the parasite enters bloodstream and spreads to other organs and tissues. In the process of asexual reproduction, oocysts affect organs and tissues. The parasite can settle almost everywhere, but most often and massively spoils the nervous tissue.

The main distributors of toxoplasma are cats that secrete a parasite with feces, but dogs can also be carriers of toxoplasma, secreting it with saliva and through the hair. The disease in humans (intermediate host) is long and chronic, but treatable. And here the same principle works as always – the sooner an ailment is discovered, the easier it is to cure it.

Specialists say that infection with toxoplasmosis is especially dangerous for pregnant women. The parasite is able to enter the bloodstream not only of the expectant mother, but also of the one of fetus. With this development of events, pathologies of development in the unborn child can be observed. The doctor recalls that a cat is dangerous only in the active stage of the disease.

About Prevention

Mature oocysts can be on the hair of an animal, on its feet. They are distributed around the apartment, remain on the furniture and on the hands of the person who stroked the pet. The main thing is to observe hygiene, wash your hands before eating and it is better every time after interacting with pet. Keep your pet out of your pillow and in bed. Do not kiss a cat or dog who previously engaged in personal hygiene. Clean the cat’s toilet in a timely manner so that the cyst does not have time to mature.

It is believed that 50% of the human population is infected with toxoplasmosis. The disease has a chronic stage and does not bother carriers. You can detect the ailment through special tests. In order not to become infected, you need to communicate with your pet as with an animal, and not like with a child. If a dog / cat has its own place in the house (and not the owner’s bed), if a pet is not kissed and an owner washes his hands with soap and water – there will be no problems.

Rabies

Any warm-blooded animal can become sick with rabies. There is no evidence that cats or dogs are more prone to disease. Everyone can get infected, including foxes and hedgehogs, horses and badgers. This is a dangerous and fatal disease both for a pet and a human. Unfortunately, people are not always serious about this fact. Often, they skip vaccinations for a pet or do not make injections to pets for several years in a row. It is these animals that are at risk of contracting this deadly disease.

Specialists say that many people think this way: if a cat lives at home and never walks on the street, it does not need a vaccination. It is not true. It happens that the cat jumped from the balcony of the second floor and comes across the yard inhabitants (including rodents). Those can infect a domestic cat with rabies.

How infection occurs

Infection of a person or a pet occurs when bitten by a rabid animal or when saliva of a sick animal gets on damaged skin or mucous membrane. You cannot bring this disease on your feet. You should be wary of wild animals that try to approach you, as well as the corpses of animals (downed foxes on the side of the road). When the stage of clinical signs sets in and the neurological symptoms of brain damage begin to manifest, the disease cannot be cured. That is why, if you had contact with a suspicious animal, you should immediately contact the rabies office.

About Prevention

A vaccine against rabies for a dog or cat is a vaccine primarily for you, not for the pet so you can calmly communicate with it or with other people. That is why it is so important to get rabies vaccinations for your pet every year and not to ignore this safety rule. By the way, it is supposed to start when the animal reaches the age of 3 months.

Many animal owners are afraid of vaccination due to supposedly strong stresses on the pet’s body. It is a myth. Vaccines are now completely safe for animals. Additional preventive measures: if possible, do not let your pet communicate with the forest inhabitants. For example, with foxes or hedgehogs.

Lichen

By lichens are fungal skin lesions (microsporia, trichophytosis) accompanied by loss of hair and peeling of skin. The disease most commonly occurs in immunocompromised animals. Pregnant women or children can get the same disease from pets due to the fact that they have weakened immunity. If the protective functions of the body are normal, they block the appearance of the disease.

How infection occurs

Infection occurs by contact with a sick animal. It is important to wash your hands afterwards to wash away fungus and prevent it from growing on a person.

About prevention

The main thing is hygiene. Having picked up a kitten on the street, it is important to show it to a veterinarian. To determine lichen, a special procedure (lumdiagnosis) is performed. The specialist uses a lamp, in the light of which the lichen glows with a characteristic green color. But it should be understood that only half of the causative agents of this disease have a characteristic glow and the incubation period lasts from 7 days to 6 months. The disease may not manifest itself within 6 months, and then begin to develop and infect others.

The causative agents of lichen remain on objects with which the sick animal had contact; through them infection can occur. The first time after the appearance of a new family member in the house, its interaction with children and pregnant women should be excluded. Keep your pet out of bed and wash your hands.

Leptospirosis

A person can become infected with leptospirosis from a pet. This is a natural focal disease. Called by a bacterium. Leptospirosis is multifaceted and has many similar symptoms with other diseases.

How infection occurs

You can become infected with an illness everywhere except Antarctica. For a long time, the pathogen persists in marshy places and moist soils, where reproduction occurs. Pets (in particular, dogs) become infected if the owner walks them in wetlands.

The peculiarity of leptospirosis is that the disease can be transmitted by contact with the skin or hair of a pet or when swimming in infected ponds. A person is not infected from a person. The symptoms are different, mainly characteristic of liver damage: yellowness of the mucous membranes, the temperature rises, the pet becomes lethargic, blood may be present in his urine or feces. Vomiting or diarrhea is sometimes observed.

In such situations, you do not need to self-medicate and diagnose the pet yourself. It is better to consult a veterinarian immediately.

About Prevention

This is not difficult. It is enough to vaccinate a pet (in particular, a dog) once a year. You can do this from the age of 2 months. A person also needs to follow the rules of personal hygiene. Cats are often not vaccinated due to the fact that most of them live only at home.

Ornithosis

Pigeons and crows, which people often pick up on the streets, as well as ordinary parrots, can be dangerous to humans. Ornithosis is an acute infectious disease, which can affect most types of birds, accompanied by damage to the respiratory and digestive systems, rarely nervous. Often a bird (in particular, a tropical parrot) becomes infected at home and then brings this disease with it. Usually the disease worsens after the bird survives stress. The disease often passes in the acute phase, and not in the chronic and often lethal for them.

How infection occurs

Upon contact with a sick bird, by inhaling particles of infected dust or eating them.

About Prevention

With care, pick up a raven and pigeons on the street. There is no vaccine for ornithosis. It all depends on the conditions of the bird. If you buy a pet in a pet store, there should be no problems. Follow the rules of personal hygiene and hygiene of your pet.

Worms

From a huge variety, toxocara and echinococcus should be distinguished. Echinococcus (tapeworm) is a dangerous disease for humans, as it is an intermediate host of the parasite. Infection of a person occurs when the eggs of the parasite are eaten, which enter the bloodstream through the intestines and spread throughout the body. Having settled in the organ, larva begins to form bubbles up to 20 centimeters in which they are stored. Parasites can be fatal. The main owner of echinococcus is a dog, the intermediate – a man, sheep, cows.

How infection occurs

The main owner (dog, wolf) becomes infected when eating meat, liver, etc. infected with eggs. The worm’s ribbon itself begins to develop in body and can be very long. Segments containing a huge number of eggs are disconnected from the parasite, which are excreted together with feces in the external environment. Human infection occurs when a mature parasite egg is swallowed if personal hygiene is not observed.

About Prevention

The main prevention is regular antiparasitic treatment of their pets (every 3-6 months) and banal personal hygiene. Be attentive to your pet, in case of questions, contact a competent veterinarian, observe personal hygiene rules.

What about Coronavirus?

According to experts from American Kennel Club, animals can indeed be susceptible to coronavirus infection. However, we need to understand that at present medicine knows about 40 types of such a virus. They only have a similar appearance resembling a crown.

Pets can become infected with such an infection, but this is not about COVID-19, the infection that the whole world is fighting today. The fact is that coronavirus is a species-specific disease and is able to be transmitted from one individual to another only within its species. This means that the virus cannot be transmitted from person to animal or vice versa. At least current WHO data have not confirmed any such case.

At the same time, representatives of the World Health Organization recall that pet owners are required to adhere to general hygiene rules. That is, before and after contact even with your pets, you should wash your hands and try to avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with your hands.

How does coronavirus disease affect cats and dogs? In dogs, it manifests itself in the form of gastroenteritis, an inflammatory disease of the stomach and small intestine. The veterinarian notes that its main manifestations can be called weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. And they can become infected through contact with other dogs, both directly and through objects. With which infected animals interacted.

In the case of cats, the situation is similar, but there are two strains. If the first leads to gastroenteritis, then the second causes viral peritonitis. And in order to defeat the ailment, you must definitely turn to veterinarians for qualified help.

That is, in fact, it is worthwhile to understand that the coronavirus infection inherent in animals is not at all exactly the one that humanity is trying to fight today. Therefore, do not be afraid of communicating with your pets. But it is always important to remember the general rules of hygiene.