We have finished our zoonotic disease discussions with 4 more diseases that you can catch from your pets. We were planning on finishing our discussion with rabies in the next post, however after the death of a local dog to rabies we have decided to include that topic with this post.
Rabies – Dog dies from Rabies in Twinsburg, OH Oct 10th, 2011. This is too close to home for us to not at least mention this recent event. All too often we forget that rabies is not only a raccoon and bat disease, but that it can be a fatal disease in humans and our pets. After confirming this story with an Ohio State Official, we checked some statistics with the Center for Disease Control. Here is a link which shows a break down by county of the number of tested animals along with the number of positive dogs/cats. The numbers are astonishing considering how many animals are vaccinated for rabies annually. It is imperative that you vaccinate your pet for rabies in accordance with your state’s laws and veterinarian’s guidelines. In almost all cases rabies is fatal to human beings and animals.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can be spread to humans from many different wild animals via direct contact with urine or contaminated water, soil, or food. This disease can go unnoticed without symptoms for a period of time and is difficult to diagnose because of its wide range of symptoms. Eventually, if left untreated, the disease can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress and death. Fortunately a vaccine exists to prevent your canine pets from contracting leptospirosis. Not all pets are at risk of catching this disease, but if your pet spends any time outdoors, you go on hikes, swimming, have a wet back yard, etc., then it is strongly recommended that you have your pet vaccinated for this disease.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can have devastating effects on pregnant and immune compromised humans. There are many different routes that this parasite can infest a human being, but for our conversation we will stick to the transmission of toxoplasmosis from felines to humans. If you are pregnant or are planning on conceiving within the next 6 months you should avoid taking in and handling any stray cats. For your own cats, the litter box should be changed daily and preferably while wearing gloves if you must empty the litter box yourself. Be sure to wash thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. Fortunately, the feces does not become infectious until 1-5 days after the feline has passed it. Gardening should be avoided while pregnant, unless wearing gloves, as stray felines may use a garden as a litter box and the toxoplasmosis can live in the soil. This is also a food transmitted parasite spread through meat so if your pet is fed a raw diet, you should switch to a canned or dry diet during and before pregnancy. Also be sure to have your own food cooked thoroughly before ingesting.
Bartonella, often referred to as “cat scratch fever”, is spread through cat scratches and bites. This bacteria can cause infection at the point of injury, swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Some cases can lead to more serious complications. Roughly 40% of all cats carry the disease at some point in their life so all cat owners can potentially be at risk. Avoid rough play with your feline pets and do not let them lick any open wounds you may have. If you are bitten or scratched you should consult with your physician.