Your pet is a beloved member of your home, but did you know that your animal can actually make you sick? The endless companionship and love a pet can give can come with a few diseases if you’re not careful. Your pet can transmit all kinds of germs and conditions, so be sure you regularly wash your hands when handling any animal or their remains. Here are 15 shocking diseases and conditions that you can get from your pet.
If you have a large number of rabbits, they can carry an invisible disease and show no symptoms. Pasteurellosis will not usually show visual symptoms, although some rabbits will have larger lymph nodes and eye infections. This virus is a respiratory disease sometimes referred to as “snuffles.”
Don’t be deceived by the cute-sousing name. It can give humans some pretty bad eye infections and in rare cases may even trigger pneumonia. Birds also carry the disease. As always, it is essential to wash your hands after handling rabbits and keep them up to date on their health exams.
#14 Hantavirus of Rodents
Pet rodents can be pretty cute, but in rare circumstances owning them can be dangerous. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare disease that can be contracted from mice. Wild deer mice often pick up the disease in the fall when the rodents move inside in order to hide from the cold.
The disease can be passed to humans through a scratch, but also through fecal matter, urine and saliva. If so, the disease can cause some life-threatening problems, like pneumonia, edema, kidney failure and serious fevers. In fact, the disease is more dangerous for humans than rodents.
#13 Viral Encephalitis
Viral Encephalitis comes in many forms, including Western, Eastern and St. Louis. They can pass into the body of a human through the bite of an infected insect, such as a mosquito. Encephalitis is an inflation of the brain.
Horses sometimes suffer from the disease, but in most cases they cannot pass the virus on. People who have birds who go outside should be aware that the bird can actually pass the virus to human beings.
Tapeworms are one of several worms that can make you and your pets sick. Tapeworms are very easy to transmit. If you or your children forget to wash your hands after coming into contact with an animal, and then touch your face, it’s likely that you will wind up with a bad tapeworm case. If you see your pets dragging their butts on the ground, or observe worms or rice-size pieces in their stool, take them to the vet.
Thankfully, tapeworms are easily treated by medicine. Kids are more likely than adults to be infected with tapeworm because they tend to forget to wash their hands before coming into contact with their mouths. While undeniably unpleasant, tapeworms are easily treatable.
Stomach bugs are the worst. Some of the same bugs that plague your pets can also get to you. Campylobacter is a bug that can be found in the intestines of kittens, puppies, young horses, baby ferrets, rabbits, and birds.
It is also one of the most common diarrhea-inducing diseases that is prevalent in America. To avoid this nasty bug, be aware of handling animals who have had diarrhea, even if they are cured. Even a little contact on your hands could wind up damaging your intestinal system, leading to quite the case of Montezuma’s Revenge.
If you enjoy the great outdoors with your dog, be careful about sharing water. Giardia is a waterborne, one-cell organism that enjoys navigable waters. This parasite may be present in the water you and your pet swallow from lakes, rivers, and streams. Guardia will give your dog or cat a bad case of diarrhea; and it can do the same to humans.
The parasite can be cured by taking anti-parasitic medication. To avoid contracting the disease, don’t share water with your dog and be careful drinking from streams and lakes. If possible, bring both you and your pet some bottled water.
Like humans, dogs are also at risk for hookworms, which collect on the intestinal walls. If they are found in pet feces, they can also transfer to pet owners. If you contract hookworms, you may have a rash, a cough, or a stomach pain. Hookworms often happen if you accidentally step in your dog’s feces, so be sure you remove any droppings promptly from the yard.
Rats are known to carry many diseases, including the plague bacteria. The bubonic plague may have been caused by rat infestations. Sometimes cats can get plague from rats and pass it along to humans, but this is rare. Be careful handling any rats your cat may bring you, just in case!
Pet birds are known to carry certain diseases. Psittacosis is an extremely rare disease carried by birds like parakeets. Although there are only around 50 American cases a year, the serious illness can be difficult to treat, resulting in pneumonia.
Amphibians are often carrying the Salmonella bacteria. That’s why you should always wash your hands after handling snakes, reptiles, turtles, frogs and salamanders. And definitely do not kiss the animals, cute as they may be!
Dogs and other house pets can pass ringworm to humans. Ringworm spores are known for being able to survive for months without a host. That’s why it is so easy for dogs to contract ringworm spores and then pass them to humans.
Roundworms are the most common internal parasite in cats. These long, spaghetti-like worms can also infect humans, especially children. If they are untreated, they can lead to blindness. There are around 10,000 infections annually in people.
Cats who roam outside can get a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Usually cats fight off the infections before they can be contagious. However, occasionally cats shed egg forms of the parasite in their litter, which is why doctors caution pregnant women — especially those with compromised immune systems — about not changing the cat’s litter while expecting.
#2 Cat Scratch Fever
Around 40 percent of cats have the bartonella germ at some point during their lives. The germs are present in cats’ claws, which then infect humans through a scratch. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed will help prevent the disease.
Rabies is now rare in the United States. However, since rabies is fatal to pets and animals, and can also be fatal to humans, it is essential to seek treatment immediately if exposed. Focusing on rabies prevention by keeping your pets vaccinated is the best way to stay healthy.