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Zoonoses? Sounds Funny, But Diseases Passing Between Animals and People Is No Laughing Matter

Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are those diseases which can be passed from animals to people. Some of these diseases can involve our pets. And, in some cases, the disease can also be passed from people to animals as well.

These are some of the most commonly encountered zoonotic diseases. This list is not exhaustive but includes the diseases that are the most dangerous and/or the most commonly diagnosed.

Rabies: Rabies is a disease that is transmissible to dogs, cats, humans and a wide variety of other animals. Pets are often exposed through contact with wildlife, particularly skunks and raccoons. Rabies is a deadly disease and most communities have laws that regulate the vaccination of pets for rabies in order to protect the general public.

Intestinal Parasites: There are several types of intestinal parasites that are common in dogs and cats. Some of these parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms and others, can also be passed to people.

Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a disease that is caused by a bacteria. It is passed through contact with body fluids, particularly urine. In some areas, it is frequently seen in dogs though in other areas it is far less common. It can be passed to people from infected pets through contact with their urine. It can also be passed to people through contact with urine from other infected animals, such as rodents.

Cat Scratch Disease: Cat scratch disease is also sometimes called cat scratch fever. It is caused by a bacteria, known as Bartonella henselae that is carried by fleas. Though passed to people through wounds caused by cat scratches, it is actually contamination of the wound with flea feces which may be found on the cat’s nails that causes the disease. A flea infestation is necessary in order for this disease to be passed to a person.

Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that is easily passed from pets to people and from people to pets. It is not, as the name seems to infer, caused by a worm. Ringworm is particularly common in puppies and kittens that are housed in less than ideal circumstances.

Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter: Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter are bacteria that can cause infection of the intestinal tract of dogs, cats and other pets. The disease can also be passed to people through contact with infected feces. It can be a concern with feeding raw food diets but many commercial food recalls are a result of contamination with Salmonella or E. coli as well.

Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: Lyme disease is one of many diseases that can be carried be ticks, along with ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more. Many of these diseases are zoonotic and can be passed to people, dogs and other pets. In most cases, disease is not passed directly from a pet to a person. However, pets can bring ticks into the home or yard that can transmit a zoonotic disease.

These are some of the zoonoses that are most commonly seen and diagnosed. There are many other zoonotic diseases in addition to these however.


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