Most people know that certain diseases can affect both pets and people, such as rabies and Lyme disease. Zoonotic diseases (transmitted from animals to humans) such as these can pose serious health risks. To protect yourself, family members, and your own pets, it’s crucial to have ongoing awareness and prevention tactics in place.
The Gap Between Us
We live very closely with our pets and, even though we’re responsible for providing everything they need, the relationship is mutually beneficial. They enrich our lives, reduce stress, save us from loneliness, and bridge the gap between us and others.
However, the closeness we so enjoy is also responsible for potentially exposing us to harmful organisms. Luckily, with excellent hygiene practices at home, such as routine hand washing, the risk decreases.
Parasite prevention is also an important strategy against zoonotic diseases spread by fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.
Curiouser and Curiouser
There is a wide spectrum of zoonotic diseases and their associated symptoms can be either significant or subtle. The effects of an infectious disease in an animal can be non-existent, but once transmitted to people the result is 180-degrees different.
- Direct-contact is a common way for zoonotic diseases to spread from animals to humans. Avoid touching feces, urine, blood, saliva, and mucous of possibly infected animals.
- Being in an area where infected animals live or roam is another way for pathogens to spread.
- Getting bit by an infected insect, like a mosquito, tick, flea, or mite can transmit a zoonotic disease.
- Eating food or drinking water contaminated with feces of an infected animal.
People with robust immune systems can combat zoonotic diseases better than the elderly, the very young, pregnant, or the immune-compromised. Likewise, the pathogen’s nature can affect the severity of symptoms. Whether triggered by a virus, bacteria, fungal, or parasitic, zoonotic diseases often elicit a full immune response.
Common Zoonotic Disease
Pets are commonly tested for and (hopefully) routinely protected against the following common zoonotic diseases:
- Lyme disease
Making sure pets are protected against common threats via year round parasite prevention medication, coupled with vigilance and sanitation at home, you and your family members may never have to face the side effects of zoonotic disease. Disease prevention through vaccinations is an equally important defense.
A Brighter Future
Always be aware that public places, such as zoos, dog parks, fairs, and marketplaces, can harbour dangerous pathogens. Always wash your hands with soap and hot water, avoid bites or scratches from unfamiliar animals, and seek help if your safety is ever in doubt.