Medical News You Can Use: Household Animals Can Pass Along Diseases
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 25, 2015
Household Animals Can Pass Along Diseases
While there are many positive effects of keeping household pets, they can also pass along diseases. In a study published in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal,” Canadian and American researchers warned that animals are able to transmit numerous pathogens to their owners.
Scientists from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and the University of Ottawa in Ontario performed a meta-analysis of existing literature, which mainly included reports on individual cases but contained no systematic studies.
For healthy people, the risk of contracting a disease was low if the animals were adequately kept and hygiene guidelines followed. However, children younger than 5, adults older than 65, people who are ill, and pregnant women were at increased risk of developing a zoonotic disease. Moreover, researchers found in that group of people the diseases may be more severe, symptoms may last longer, and the risk of complications was higher.
Practically all household pets can transmit pathogens. Transmission occurs through bites and scratches, contact with feces, when cleaning cages, or when an animal licks a person.
Dogs and cats can transmit the diarrhea pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, and cats also pass on Bartonella bacteria. Infection with resistant bacteria such as ESBL, MRSA or Clostridium difficile, is possible between humans and animals in both directions.
Parasites, such as worms, are usually contracted from dogs and cats. Cats can also pass on the bacteria Toxoplasma gondii, which can lead to serious birth defects in unborn children, or even miscarriage. Amphibians and reptiles commonly transmit salmonella. According to U.S. studies, about 11% of all salmonella infections in those under age 21 are caused through contact with those animals.
In general however, the companionship provided by household pets has more positive than negative effects. Dogs, in particular, contribute to protecting toddlers against allergies and respiratory infections. Furthermore, canines have positive effects on the psyche and especially have positive effects because owners get more exercise by taking the animal out.