Many of us have pets that we love and consider to be family but did you know that your beloved pets could actually make you sick?

What the Heck are Zoonoses?

Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are caused by germs that can spread between animals and humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these diseases pose a significant health risk and understanding their transmission is crucial for prevention. In this article, we will explore some common zoonotic diseases and how they spread from animals to humans.


Cat Scratch Disease

Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection that can be spread by cats. When an infected cat licks a person's open wound or bites and scratches hard enough to break the skin, the disease can be transmitted. Symptoms of CSD include swollen and red lesions at the site of the scratch or bite, along with fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. To prevent CSD, it is essential to wash cat bites and scratches thoroughly with soap and water and avoid allowing cats to lick wounds.

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Escherichia coli

Another common zoonotic disease is Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection. E. coli is a bacteria that is normally present in the intestines of humans and animals. However, certain strains can cause illness. The most severe form, E. coli O157, produces a toxin known as Shiga-toxin. Contaminated food, especially undercooked ground beef or raw milk, is a common source of E. coli infection in humans. Animals such as cows, goats, sheep, and deer can also carry and spread E. coli O157. Proper food handling and hygiene practices are crucial to prevent E. coli infections.



Ringworm, a fungal infection, is another zoonotic disease that can spread from animals to humans. It can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or animal, as well as through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. Pets, including dogs, cats, cows, goats, pigs, and horses, can carry and transmit ringworm to humans. Prompt diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian are essential to prevent the spread of ringworm.


Salmonella, a group of bacteria, can also be transmitted from animals to humans. Animals such as poultry, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and farm animals can carry Salmonella without showing any signs of illness. Contamination can occur through direct contact with animals or through contact with their feces. Proper hand hygiene and safe handling of pet food are crucial to prevent Salmonella infections.


Good Hygiene Goes a Long Way

Understanding how zoonotic diseases spread is vital for prevention. By adopting good hygiene practices, such as handwashing, proper food handling, and avoiding contact with infected animals, you can reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases for both yourself and your pets. Stay informed, take necessary precautions, and consult a healthcare professional or veterinarian if you suspect an infection.

[Source: CDC]

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