The Role of Pets in Spreading Zoonotic Infections and Preventing Illness

Diseases that may be transmitted from animals to humans, known as zoonotic diseases, are more frequent than you would believe. Keep up with your pet’s preventative care to avoid catching numerous illnesses, even if they seem OK on the outside.

Can my pet give me disease?

There are several routes through which pets might spread bacteria and viruses to humans:

  • Direct contact — Direct contact with saliva, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily fluids from an infected pet can result in the transmission of disease. If you clean up your pet’s accident inside, or they lick a sore on your leg, you can contract an illness.
  • Indirect contact — Indirect disease transmission occurs when you come in contact with something an infected pet has contaminated. For example, if your child digs in their sandbox after a stray cat has used it as a litter box, they may contract a roundworm infection.
  • Vectors — Vectors, like ticks and fleas, can be attracted to your pet and be carried indoors to bite and transmit disease to you.
  • Food — Undercooked meat, eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected pet are some of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses in people and their pets.
  • Water — Drinking or coming in contact with water contaminated with feces or urine can result in diseases such as giardia or leptospirosis being passed to you.

Can my pet spread any infections to me?

Pets can spread disease to humans in several ways, including:

  • Bacteria (leptospirosis, salmonella, E. coli, tick-borne disease, cat scratch disease)
  • Viruses (rabies)
  • Fungi (ringworm)
  • Intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, toxoplasma)
  • External parasites (scabies, fleas, ticks)

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it should be a reminder always to use proper hygiene while interacting with your pet, their waste, and their things.

Pets can transmit several diseases and parasites to their human and animal family members. Prevention is the most excellent medicine, and that goes for your family’s human and canine members. To ensure your and your pet’s well-being, please call our office to schedule a preventative care appointment.