Everybody loves their pets, including myself, but how many of us understand the consequences of Zoonotic infections.
To be honest, I’m really freaked out at pet owners who let their pets lick their faces……Bluch! I had an Aunt that loved her lapdog so much that he would lick her face at every greeting…….then my Aunt would try to give me a kiss goodbye on our way home. I would say a pleasant goodbye and race to the car without the goodbye peck on the cheek. I’m sure she wondered what was going on, but I told my folks about my psychological dilemma and she never let the dog lick her face in front of me again.
On the farm we had dogs all our lives, but not once did I let our dogs slobber on my face. Sure it’s their way of showing affection, but the consequence could be infection. These illnesses are transmitted from animals to humans and include Campylobacter, Salmonella, fungal or parasitic infections such as hookworm and roundworm, and viruses. In addition, fleas and ticks carried by pets can increase the risk of insect-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.
Fortunately, there are simple steps to keep yourself safe around your furry, scaled or feathered family member:
1. Wash hands after contact with pet: After handling your pet, their blankets or cage, wash your hands thoroughly.
2. Avoid contact with pet feces: This is an obvious one; wear gloves and use a plastic bag to clean up after your dog or while emptying the cat’s litter box.
3. Prompt cleanup after a bite or scratch: Wash the area thoroughly.
4. Avoid certain pet treats: Stay away from those derived from animals, such as pig’s ears
5. Use gloves when cleaning aquariums: Take care to dispose of water away from areas used to prepare food, such as the kitchen sink
6. Avoid rodents, reptiles, amphibians: The researchers also advise against letting these pets roam through living areas, especially where food is prepared
7. Avoid animals with diarrhea
8. Keep bird and rodent cages clean: Daily bird cage cleaning and frequent rodent cage cleaning should be done using disposable gloves and if possible, a face mask
9. Launder pet bedding frequently and disinfect cages and eating areas
10. Take your pet to a veterinarian at the first sign of illness: In addition, follow guidelines to prevent and treat parasitic infections in your pet
Love your pet but love yourself just a little more.
Jason W Stull, Andrew S Peregrine, Jan M Sargeant and J Scott Weese. “Household knowledge, attitudes and practices related to pet contact and associated zoonoses in Ontario, Canada.” BMC Public Health 2012, 12:553
Jason W. Stull, Jason Brophy, and J.S. Weese. “Reducing the Risk of Pet-Associated Zoonotic Infections.” CMAJcmaj.141020; published ahead of print April 20, 2015