As much as you love your pets, there's still a possibility they can make you sick if you aren't careful. A recent study explains the potential health risks of pet ownership — particularly for those with weak immune systems — and how you can easily avoid them.
Photo by Stewart Black
The study, from Ohio State University and published in the April issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that there are at least 20 different diseases that people acquire from typical house pets. The transmittable bacteria include Campylobacter from cats and dogs, and Salmonella from amphibians, reptiles, rodents, and young poultry. There are even some parasites than can make the jump as well. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep your furry, feathered, and scaled friends from getting you sick:
- If you have a weak immune system, ask your doctor if the pets you have are OK. They won't always ask, so bring it up to them. If a weakened immune system is an issue for you, contact with higher risk pets like reptiles, amphibians and other exotics is best avoided.
- Wear protective gloves while cleaning aquariums, cages, bedding, feeding areas and when cleaning up faeces. Be sure to clean and disinfect those areas regularly.
- Discourage pets from face licking and wash your hands before eating.
- Keep litter boxes away from areas where eating and food prep occur, and cover playground boxes when not in use.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, make sure you take your pets to the veterinarian regularly for check ups and shots. The risk of contracting disease is much higher for those with weaker immune systems, but it's possible for anyone to get sick. Your animals are certainly not disease-ridden monsters, it's just important to do the little things so everyone stays healthy. Check out the link below to learn more.
New study suggests ways to avoid catching diseases from pets [The Ohio State University News Room via Science Direct]