Zoonotic Diseases That Transfer From Pets To Humans
Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can easily transmit from animals to humans. Several zoonoses spread via close or indirect contact with infected animals or house pets. At the same time, other Zoonosis can be water or foodborne.
There are various zoonotic diseases that affect both humans and pets. Some show mild symptoms, whereas others can cause serious illness.
If you want to know what is a zoonotic disease and how to prevent its transmission, keep reading this article.
What is a Zoonosis or Zoonotic disease?
Zoonotic diseases are also known as zoonosis. This type of disease transmits from an animal, including pets or insects, to a human. Some zoonotic diseases do not affect an animal but can make a human sick.
Zoonotic diseases can vary from minor short term illness to some major deadly illness that can even cause death.
Zoonosis is caused by :
- a virus
Zoonotic disease transmission caused by ticks and mosquitos is the most serious of all the zoonosis.
How does Zoonotic Transmission take place?
Zoonotic transmission can happen in many ways:
- Via air
- insect bites
- Coming in close contact with an infected human or animal
- by eating contaminated produce or meat
- by touching an infected area or surface
Transmission mostly happens when people bike, hike, boat, or take part in great outdoor activities. People who work or live on farms also come in close contact with various livestock that carries zoonosis. Even your pet can carry fleas and ticks indoors that can move into your family later.
Types of Zoonotic Diseases That Transmit From Pets
Cat Scratch Disease
Also known as Cat Scratch Fever, this zoonosis is caused by a bacteria named Bartonella henselae. Cats usually get this bacteria from fleas; however, it does not cause any illness in cats.
This zoonotic disease transmission occurs in humans with a cat scratch or cat bite that breaks into the skin. You can also contract this zoonosis if a cat licks an open wound on your body. Dogs can also catch this disease the same way.
Some common symptoms of Bartonella Henselae are :
- Swelling on the infected area
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
In certain rare cases, cat scratch diseases can also become serious and affect your major organs, including the eyes. Luckily, most people and even dogs recover fully and may require antibiotics in some cases.
Giardiasis is a zoonosis caused by a single-cell microscopic parasite called Giardia. It can infect large numbers of animals like cats, dogs, rodents, and even humans. These parasites form a huge cyst that allows them to survive in tough conditions until they find a new host.
One contracts Giardiasis when it is ingested and causes vomiting or diarrhea. Animals often contract this zoonosis by walking on the contaminated soil or drinking contaminated water, and even licking paws. Although humans can directly catch giardiasis from an infected animal, however, it is very rare. Humans mostly get this disease by drinking contaminated water.
An infected animal should be given regular baths. The giardia cysts come out through stool but can remain on the animal body. Pick and dispose of your pet’s feces immediately. Wash your hands thoroughly whenever you come into contact with infected animals.
By following appropriate medication, giardiasis can be treated; however, people who are affected severely may need antidiarrheal medicine or fluids to stay hydrated.
Hookworm is a common intestinal parasite that is found in cats and dogs. This parasite can cause anemia, diarrhea, and even loss of appetite. Small puppies often contract hookworms through their mother when nursing. Big cats and dogs can be infected after ingesting larvae of hookworms from eating infected prey, environment, or when it penetrates the skin.
Hookworm is also capable of penetrating human skins, which then leads to skin reactions like itching or swelling. In some rare cases, Hookworm larvae can also penetrate deep tissue layers and may cause severe problems.
To prevent accidental exposure wear gloves when in close contact with contaminated environments or handling soils. Wash your hands properly. Avoid walking barefoot in contaminated areas. Get your pets checked annually for hookworms and parasites. Antiparasitic drugs can treat hookworm infections and help in the full recovery of animals and humans.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease caused by bacteria of the Leptospira genus. This bacteria is often carried in the urine of infected animals and rodents. Humans or animals coming in contact with contaminated water, soil, and mud can easily contract this bacteria.
Humans can also contract this bacteria via direct contact with the urine of infected animals or by eating the meat of infected animals. Livestock, dogs, and humans are all susceptible to leptospirosis. However, there are rare cases of illness in cats, but they may transmit the bacteria.
Some common symptoms of Leptospirosis begin with flu. When it progresses, it can damage major organs like kidneys and liver. Get your dogs vaccinated against leptospirosis to prevent exposure to this bacteria. Stay away from contaminated water bodies.
Rabies is a deadly zoonotic transmission that affects mammals and is one of the most deadly zoonosis. It is mostly transmitted via saliva, animal bite, or even scratch from the infected animals. Humans, cats, dogs, or any mammal can contract rabies.
Rabies begins with flu-like symptoms and then progresses into a neurological disorder. People can experience behavioral changes, seizures, disorientation, and aggression. Humans exposed to rabies should be treated with post-exposure vaccines and globulin. However, once the symptoms start to develop, it becomes fatal.
In case you are bitten or scratched by an animal, see your doctor right away. Have your dogs and cats regularly vaccinated against rabies to prevent the spread of this fatal zoonotic disease.
Ringworm is not a worm despite what the name says. This is named so because it appears worm-like on lesions on people’s skin. Ringworm is also known as Dermatophytosis. It is a fungal infection on the skin which affects dogs, rabbits, cats, humans, and rodents. This zoonosis is contracted via an infected person or animal or through a contaminated environment.
The fungus often shows symptoms like scaly, red, circular lesions, and itch on the skin. It can even cause hair loss in areas where hair normally grows. Ringworm can be fairly treated easily using antifungal medications. Luckily, this is not a fatal condition. However, it will be quite gruesome to get rid of it once it starts spreading to humans and animals in the household. Elderly, very young, and weak immune people are at greater risk of contracting this zoonosis.
Roundworm is another kind of intestinal parasite found mostly in cats and dogs and their babies. Commun signs of roundworms are scruffy fur, potbelly, and failure to gain weight. Animals usually contract roundworms from contaminated environments, and the puppies can get this in utero
Young humans are also at risk of getting infected if they ingest eggs left in a contaminated environment. After ingestion, roundworm larvae migrate through the body and affect internal organs and eyes.
To prevent or minimize exposure, wear gloves while handling soil or coming in close contact with infected animals. Afterward, wash your hand thoroughly using soap and water. Get pet screening done annually for roundworms and parasites.
Luckily, Antiseptic drugs can easily treat roundworm infections. Humans and animals make a full recovery and rarely see extreme symptoms. However, when roundworm affects the human heart, brain, or eyes, the disease can turn a bit serious.
Also known as scabies, Sarcoptic mange is a mite caused by skin condition by Sarcoptes Scabiebi. The mites burrow themselves into the skin and can cause hair loss, intense itch, and thick skin. Scabies affects most animals as well as humans.
There are many varieties of mites that adapt to live in various animals. If you come in close contact with the wrong species of mites, it can lead to mild symptoms and later intense infestation.
Humans who come in close contact with infected animals can contract scabies. A human infected with scabies may also pass it on to other humans. Sarcoptic mange in animals can be easily prevented and treated with the use of flea and tick prevention medication.
Ticks are a major carrier of several Zoonotic diseases like Lyme disease, rocky mountain spot fever, and Ehrlichiosis. Various tick-borne diseases can directly affect animals and humans. These Zoonotic disease transmission does not contract from animals to humans; ticks keep transferring between hosts carrying the diseases.
Symptoms of tick-borne disease take some time to appear and may vary from host to host and start with flu. Certain ticks cause zoonotic diseases also cause skin rash and joint pain. Treatment and diagnosis of tick-borne diseases are difficult. The recovery of a human or animal depends on the case of the patient.
Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic transmission caused by Toxoplasma Gondii, a protozoan parasite. This parasite can easily transmit to humans and animals through ingestion of undercooked meat and even through cat feces.
Toxoplasmosis does not cause any symptoms in cats. Most healthy humans may also not get any symptoms when affected. However, this zoonosis can cause serious illness in people with weak immune systems.
It may cause miscarriage, birth defects, or stillbirth if a woman contracts this virus during pregnancy. It is important for pregnant women to take proper precautions when handling cat litter boxes and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods.
In rare cases, humans infected by toxoplasmosis may see vague symptoms like headaches, mild fever, and muscle aches. In some serious cases, parasites can even damage eyes or brains. Take supportive care and antibiotics if you contract this disease.
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Steps to Follow if you contract the infection by Zoonotic disease:
If you think you have contracted a zoonotic disease, contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible. If you have been bitten by an animal or scratched by your pet, get your pet checked by a veterinarian. Make sure your pet does not have rabies or any other zoonosis.
Zoonotic diseases are quite common; however, some people are more at risk of contracting them. High-risk individuals include:
- pregnant women
- children younger than five-year-old
- adults aged 65 or older
- those with HIV
- People with weaken immune systems
- Those who are going through chemotherapy
Prevention Tips for Zoonotic Diseases
Zoonotic diseases are widespread all around the world. The United States and some other countries are constantly working to reduce the illness caused by insects and animals. Following good food safety regulations is one way to reduce the chances of contracting zoonosis through contaminated food.
There are some more ways to prevent Zoonotic Diseases, which include:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Practice safe food handling.
- Using insect repellent to keep fleas, mosquitos, and ticks away.
- Avoid being bitten or scratched by your pet or any animal.
- Take your pets on regular annual visits to the veterinarian.
- Get your pets vaccinated
- Ask your veterinarian about flea and tick preventative measures.
- Use gloves when handling sick animals.
- Don’t drink, eat, or touch your eyes or mouth while you are in close contact with animals.
- Be aware of animals or insects when you participate in outdoor activities like hunting and camping.
Zoonotic diseases are widespread and very common. Pregnant women, children, elderly people, and those with weak immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting zoonotic diseases. The best way to minimize exposure to these diseases is by :
- following proper environmental cleaning,
- practicing safety practices around infected animals to avoid scratches, bites,
- and preventing insect bites.
Pet owners should take all the necessary steps to keep the pets healthy taking them for regular screenings and getting vaccines. If you or your family member develop any symptoms, see your doctor immediately.