Infectious diseases are those diseases in animals that can be transmitted to humans. These diseases are spread through direct or indirect contact with affected animals. Some are transmitted via incests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Others can be food or waterborne.
Children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk for these infectious diseases. Those people who work in pet care centers also have an increased risk of being infected.
The best way to prevent the spread of these diseases is proper handwashing, environmental cleaning, practicing safety around animals to avoid bites and scratches, preventing insect bites, properly washing fruits and vegetables, thoroughly cooking foods, and drinking only potable water. Pet owners should take steps to keep their pets healthy and follow their vet’s advice for routine tests like parasite screenings. Talk to your doctor if you or a family member develops any unusual symptoms.
There are a number of these infectious diseases that can affect both pets and people. Some are more serious than others, but most can create a serious health threat if not controlled.
1. Cat Scratch Disease
Normally Cat Scratch Fever is caused by bacteria called Bartonella henselae. Cats typically contract the bacteria from fleas. Bartonella henselae does not generally cause illness in cats. Humans can be infected from cat scratch disease after getting a cat bite or scratch. They can also get it if an infected cat licks an open wound on the human. Dogs can get the disease in the same ways.
Bartonella henselae often causes swelling at the injury site along with enlargement of nearby lymph nodes. Other common signs of infection include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and headache. In rare cases, cat scratch disease can become very serious, affecting the eyes and other major organs. Fortunately, most people and dogs can make a full recovery, although antibiotics may be needed in some cases.
Giardiasis is a disease caused by Giardia, a group of microscopic single-celled parasites. This disease can infect several animals, including dogs, cats, rodents, and humans. They form tough cysts that allow them to survive in harsh environments until they can infect a new host.
Infection occurs when the Giardia parasite is ingested, often causing diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Normally this disease infects any pet when they walk through any soil and also lick it off. Also drinking contaminated water can infect any pet. Humans can get giardiasis directly from an infected animal, it is relatively uncommon. Contaminated water can also infect any human as well.
The hookworm is a common intestinal parasite in dogs and cats. These hookworms can cause diarrhea, loss of appetite, and anemia. Puppies can get hookworms from their mothers, but any dog or cat can become infected after ingesting hookworm larvae from the environment, eating infected prey, or when hookworm larvae penetrate their skin.
Prevent accidental exposure by wearing gloves while handling soil or coming into contact with contaminated environments, then by washing your hands well. Avoid walking barefoot in areas where animals may have defecated. Make sure you screen your pets at least annually for hookworms and other parasites.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. This bacteria is often carried in the urine of rodents and other infected animals. Animals and humans coming into contact with contaminated water, mud, and soil can contract the disease. They can also get it via direct contact with the urine of an infected animal or by eating an infected animal.
Dogs, livestock, and humans are all susceptible to leptospirosis. Illness is rare in cats, but they can still carry and transmit the bacteria. While some animals and humans will fight off the bacteria and never become sick, others get very ill. Leptospirosis in people often begins with flu-like symptoms. If it progresses, it can affect the major organs, especially the liver and kidneys.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects mammals as well as pets. It is one of the most dangerous zoonotic diseases known. Rabies is primarily transmitted via saliva, most commonly after a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Any mammal can contract rabies, including dogs, cats, and humans.