Expert Vet Advice: Everything You Need to Know About Zoonotic Diseases

What are zoonotic diseases?

By definition, a zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted to people from animals. Though not terribly common in our country, there are a few diseases that can, and do, affect us and our families — animals or people.

You’ve probably heard of the big bad “rabies” before, and you’d be right to think it’s big and bad, but fortunately for us, and due to diligent vaccination protocols, there are barely any reported cases. Win!

What are some types of zoonotic diseases and how common are they?

A big example of a zoonotic disease that makes its way around is ringworm. Ringworm is a pretty common fungal disease which has the potential to be contagious to us humans and our other pets. Ringworm is known to be difficult to cure and even control, particularly in pets with compromised immune systems. This fungal disease doesn’t discriminate and likes people just as much as pets. it has an affinity to spread to any part of the body with hair follicles, so at least your palms are in the safe zone.

Some of the intestinal parasites, like giardia, hookworms, and roundworms can cause illness in people, especially kids, as well as some of the external parasites like fleas, ticks, and the Sarcoptic mange, or scabies mite, which are a nuisance and can cause some annoying skin irritation.

However, most of these diseases are not very common, especially in more advanced countries, like the United States and Canada where basic hygiene is commonplace. Prevention revolves around common-sense hygiene and awareness.

How can you avoid zoonotic diseases?

We know it’s hard, but try your best to be careful around your pet if they’re affected. Avoid unnecessary contact with animals, like affectionate head pats, and if you do, wash your hands well with soap after. While you’re at it, it’s always good to wash your hands before eating or preparing food, especially with puppies and kittens, which are at a greater risk of shedding parasite eggs. If you’re pregnant, let someone else clean the litter box and try to get your cat tested for toxoplasmosis ASAP. Eating well-cooked meat can also help prevent toxoplasmosis infection since undercooked meat or contaminated food is a major source of exposure.

If a vet has prescribed medication for your infected animal, it’s very important to use it as directed, and make sure to have your pets re-checked as treatment may need to be changed depending on response.

We understand these diseases can sound scary, but none of them should stop you from sharing your home with your furry friends. If you have any questions about zoonotic diseases or would like some tips on how to live safely with your pets, Airvet is here and we’re eager to help guide you.

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