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Q: What diseases are transferred between humans and dogs and cats?

October 9, 2008 | By Cindy | 6 answers | Expired: 2127 days ago

Cindy

What are the most common, and the most serious infections or parasites we need to be conerned about? Is there anything new on the horizon?

Readers' Answers (6)
Sarah  W.
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Oct 10, 2008

Rabies is the best-known viral zoonosis in Canada, and the most deadly. Rabies infects any warm-blooded mammal via bite wounds or saliva contamination of wounds or skin abrasions. Bats can transfer rabies via a bite, though some cases have been reported where no bite was known to occur, but the bat was known to be in the room with a sleeping person. Skunks and raccoons are common wildlife vectors for rabies, as are roaming, unvaccinated feral cats and dogs. Vaccination is very effective, and is mandatory for pets in many areas, and keeping your pet on a leash outdoors will help to prevent contact with roaming rabid animals. An animal with rabies may have the traditional "furious" aggressive form, but the disease may show up as an overly friendly animal, a dazed animal, (the so-called "dumb" rabies) or even a pet with an apparently paralyzed tongue (salivating, mouth and tongue drooping).

Ringworm is a skin disease that plagues cats especially. Although called ringworm, this condition is actually caused by a fungus that can spread to people. Humans with ringworm have red, scaly areas on their skin that are sometimes itchy and may have a traditional "bulls-eye" appearance. Though not a serious problem, ringworm needs to be treated.

Clearing ringworm from catteries or households can be very difficult indeed since cats can be asymptomatic (with no symptoms showing) carriers. The fungus spore form can also get into heating ducts, carpeting and furniture of the home and is quite resistant (lasts years). Many cats only display scurfy or scaly dandruff, with small patches of hair thinning or loss if they do show any symptoms at all.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease people can pick up from cats shedding the single celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii in the cat's stool. "Toxo" is a concern for pregnant women because it can cause serious birth defects or spontaneous abortion. Most people actually get infected with toxo by handling raw meat. Gardening in soil contaminated with cat feces or eating incompletely cooked meat are also important sources. Contact with the stool of infected cats is less commonly a source. All pregnant women should seek advice about this disease from their doctors and not clean the cat box during pregnancy as a precaution.

Cats normally only shed the organisms for a short period following the initial infection, and cat exposure to the toxoplasma organisms most commonly occurs in young, actively hunting, outdoor cats.

Pets commonly have large worms, called roundworms, living in their intestine. People who inadvertently consume roundworm eggs can be infected. Once the eggs reach the person's intestine, they hatch. The larvae produced by these eggs burrow into, and sometimes through the intestinal wall and migrate through the body. The migrating larvae cause disease if they migrate through the abdomen (visceral larval migrans). Blindness may result if the immature worms reach the eyes (ocular larval migrans).

Children are more susceptible to infection than adults because they play on back lawns and in sand boxes where contaminated stool is likely to be found. To reduce the risk of human infection, pets should be dewormed regularly.

Hookworm, another intestinal worm, can cause skin (cutaneous larval migrans) infection in people, but intestinal hookworm disease is extremely rare. Commonly, transmission occurs when children play barefoot in moist, contaminated soils.

Though the common tapeworm species are not considered significant zoonoses, hydatidosis or hydatid disease, caused by an uncommon tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosis), and found in wild and domestic dogs and cats causes significant human disease.

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Oct 10, 2008

Zoonotic Diseases & Dogs (Part 2)

Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that can cause a "bull's-eye" rash with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. If you are in an area where there are ticks, such as the woods, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. Insect repellants containing DEET and permethrin can be effective. After hikes or other outdoor activities in high-risk areas, inspect yourself and your dog for ticks and remove them promptly, and be sure to treat your pet on an ongoing basis with a flea and tick prevention medication. Read more about Lyme disease and your dog here.

Rabies: Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system. It is transmitted by a bite from a rabid animal. Early symptoms can be fever or headache, but this quickly leads to nervous system problems, such as confusion, sleepiness, or agitation. Once someone with rabies infection starts having these symptoms, he or she usually does not survive, so it is very important to talk to your health care provider right away if any animal bites you, especially a wild animal. A recent increase in the number of rabid bats in Oregon is a good reminder to protect your pets from this disease by making sure their vaccinations are up to date. Oregon law requires all dogs in the state to be vaccinated against rabies. Multnomah County requires all cats to be vaccinated. Nationally, twice as many cats as dogs are reported to have rabies each year, which is why it's a good idea to vaccinate cats as well.

Ringworm: Ringworm is not a worm, but a skin and scalp disease caused by fungus. Ringworm usually makes a bald patch of scaly skin or a ring-shaped rash that is reddish and may be itchy. The rash can be dry and scaly or wet and crusty. Ringworm is transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal's skin or hair. Dogs, especially puppies, can pass ringworm to people, so preventative care by your veterinarian is important.

Roundworm: Toxocara is a parasitic infection caused by roundworms commonly found in the intestines of dogs and puppies and shed through their stool. Toxocara infections can cause an eye disease that can cause blindness, or swelling of the body's organs or central nervous system, although most infections are not serious. Have your veterinarian treat your dog or puppy regularly for worms, wash your hands after playing with your dog, and do not let children play in areas soiled with pet waste.

If you have any questions about these diseases or concerns about your pet's health, please consult your veterinarian. If you have concerns about your health, please seek medical attention from your health care provider.

SOURCE: www. oregonvma. org/ petowners/ zoonoticdogs. asp

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Oct 10, 2008

Zoonotic Diseases & Dogs (Part 1)

A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed from animals to humans. Following are some related to dogs. It is important to remember that the best way to protect yourself from these zoonotic diseases is to practice good hygiene after playing with your dog or handling its waste. Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Take your dog to your veterinarian for regular check-ups, and if your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of these diseases. In the vast majority of cases, these diseases are treatable:

Cryptosporidium: Cryptosporidosis is a parasitic disease that causes a mild to severe infection of the gastrointestinal system, including watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Most people get cryptosporidosis from contaminated food or water, but exhibit caution with pet waste. If you develop symptoms, contact your physician. Be sure to inform him or her of your pet and if it is ill. If your dog has diarrhea, take it to your veterinarian.

Giardia: Giardiasis is the most frequent cause of nonbacterial diarrhea in North America and the most commonly diagnosed intestinal parasite in humans. It is transmitted most frequently through contaminated water. Dog owners with positive animals should consider having their own water tested. The most common sign of giardiasis in dogs is diarrhea, which can be acute, chronic, or intermittent.

Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals. In people, the symptoms are often flu-like. The risk of getting leptospirosis through common contact with a dog is low; the primary mode of transmission is through contact with contaminated animal tissues, organs, or urine. Common symptoms in dogs include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness and depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, or inability to have puppies. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of canine leptospirosis in North America. To help prevent leptospirosis, keep rodents under control; remove food, garbage and nesting materials from your yard to minimize wildlife activity; discourage your dog from drinking from standing water, such as ponds, lakes, streams, rivers or puddles; and vaccinate your dog.

SOURCE: www. oregonvma. org/ petowners/ zoonoticdogs. asp

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