Have you ever watched “Monsters Inside Me” on Animal Planet? I sometimes get hooked because a good majority of the illness that occur on the show, we also see in veterinary medicine. Zoonosis or zoonotic disease is a term used when an illness or infection is spread from animals to people. Although a very important topic, sometimes it can get overlooked. Then BOOM – you’re on TV…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list children younger than 5 years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and people with weakened immune systems as those most likely to catch a zoonotic disease. However, most of the time, the risk of infection can be greatly decreased with good hygiene practices and proper veterinary care for your pets.
Use Proper Hygiene
“Cleaning and disinfecting when possible are the first things to consider when protecting your family from zoonotic diseases.”
Cleaning and disinfecting when possible are the first things to consider when protecting your family from zoonotic diseases. This includes washing your hands after handling, making sure any eating areas and food or water containers are kept separate, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting areas where your pets are urinating and defecating (3/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water). Ingestion and exposure via wounds or mucous membranes are a common routes of infection. Intestinal worms, salmonella, and E. coli are some of the diseases transmitted that way.
Parasite Treatment and Control
Second are external parasites. Administering flea and tick prevention as directed and staying consistent will protect against skin irritation and blood borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Cat Scratch Fever, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If your pet goes hiking or we’re close to areas with high grass, woods, or other wildlife, it would also be a good practice to check your pet for any “hitchhikers” after they come from outdoors.
Preventative Health Care
“Stopping them before they start or catching diseases early can make a huge difference.
Lastly, would be making sure to take your pet in to see your veterinarian for regular vaccination and to evaluate any illnesses you notice at home. Stopping them before they start or catching diseases early can make a huge difference. There are vaccinations for leptospirosis and rabies, and ringworm is a skin disease that can pass between humans and pets easily as well.
Follow Up with Your Physician
Again, if you take these precautions, the risk of a disease originating from your pet is low. However, if you do suspect that you or a family member has been affected, not only going to your veterinarian but also visiting your family physician for a proper work up is strongly recommended.