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10 diseases that pets can transmit to humans

Company, fun, learning, love… There’s no denying it: having a pet at home – like a cat or a dog, for example – offers many positive points!

Angélica Oliveira de Almeida, veterinarian, specialist in Veterinary Acupuncture, comments that having an animal at home, in fact, offers several benefits to the person and the whole family. “People who have pets have a lower risk of depression. In them, there is a greater release of substances such as endorphins and dopamine, which reduce anxiety,” she says.

Angelica adds that people who have animals are more active because they need to take care of and walk their animals. “They are also more sociable and, according to some research, they take less medication and spend less time in hospitals,” she says.

The benefits for children are greater, as the veterinary doctor points out. “In addition to the benefits already mentioned, they develop responsibility, learn to respect animals and work on feelings of respect, self-esteem, joy, tolerance, etc.”, she highlights.

However, a very common question is: what are the most “appropriate” animals to be raised at home?

Angélica explains that dogs, cats, birds, rodents and even wild animals (authorized by IBAMA) can be raised at home. “But first, people need to think about whether their home has the physical and family structure to receive this animal”, she highlights.

The veterinarian emphasizes that it is not recommended to have as a pet those that are not domesticated or wild without registration and with dubious origin.

Giovana Mazzotti, veterinary doctor, scientific director of ANCLIVEPA-DF, highlights that the choice of animal should be based on the owner’s lifestyle, his tastes and how much he can invest financially in the care that this animal will extend throughout his life.

“I do not recommend, for example, a person who lives in an apartment and works all day to buy a Labrador Retriever dog. This animal needs a lot of human contact and physical activity, which this person will not be able to provide. If it is really a ‘dream’ to have this animal, the person must have the financial means to hire the service of a ‘school/daycare for dogs’, where this animal will have activities and contact with other animals and people in the period of absence of the owner” , explains Giovanni.

All animals, from the hamster to the horse, highlights Giovana, require lifelong veterinary care, spending on food, health and hygiene, in addition to the owners’ time for care and social interaction. “The recommendation is that, before acquiring an animal, everyone who lives in the house gets together to make the choice. So, consult a veterinarian for more detailed guidance on whether this animal would be ideal or not, as well as the care that will be needed,” he says.

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Giovana points out that many people do not know that they should look for a veterinarian BEFORE acquiring the animal (this service is the consultation prior to adoption). “This consultation, perhaps, is the most important of all, as it will guide the owner on the correct choice of animal, avoiding frustration and abandonment. In addition, in this consultation, the owner can plan to welcome this new member of the family”, he explains.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that regular consultations with the veterinarian will prevent the pet from catching any disease and transmitting it to their owners. Well, not everyone knows, but unfortunately, there are several zoonotic diseases (diseases that pass from animals to humans). Below you know some of them and check, above all, how simple it is to avoid them – protecting your pet and also the health of your whole family.

10 diseases transmitted by pets and how to avoid them

1. Mycoses

Some types of fungi are the cause of mycoses, both in people and animals, highlights Angélica. They can live in the soil, on plants or on the skin. Even though they are easily found, they will only cause mycoses in the presence of special conditions, such as low body resistance.

Some types of mycoses that affect animals are transmissible to humans, however, as in animals, the person will probably only be affected if they are in a condition of low resistance.

How to avoid

According to Angélica, the best way to avoid this type of problem is not to let the animal go outside alone and thus have contact with other animals that may be sick. “The tours must always be supervised by the owners”, she highlights.

“When the animal shows any sign of disease, it is essential to take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible to start treatment and check the guidelines to avoid contagion”, adds the veterinary doctor.

Another important tip is to always wash your hands well after playing with your pet.

2. Worms

Even well cared for animals are exposed to worm contamination. Especially puppies and kittens. They can acquire them at the time of delivery or at the time of breastfeeding (if the mother has these organisms in her body and has not been treated properly).

In addition, worms can be transmitted through air, water, food, and even walking on the street.

Angelica explains that some types of worms can contaminate people who have contact with animals. But simple tips can avoid this problem.

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How to avoid

Angelica says that most contamination occurs due to lack of hygiene, contact with feces, without proper precautions, ingestion of contaminated food. “The main measures to avoid the problem are: hygiene and keeping your animals free of parasites, periodic deworming prevents infestation”, she highlights.

3. Cat Scratch Disease

Giovana explains that this is a disease caused by a bacteria that can be present in the nails and saliva of cats. This bacteria is transmitted to the cat by the flea.

Also according to Giovana, it is a difficult disease to diagnose, because cats do not show signs and people do not associate the disease with this exposure. “It causes, in humans, from no clinical signs, to severe cases that require hospitalization and can lead to death if left untreated,” he says.

It is important to point out, according to the Master in Animal Biology, that only contaminated animals are capable of transmitting the bacteria. “So rarely a scratch will cause the disease,” she points out.

How to avoid

Giovana explains that, like other diseases transmitted by animals (zoonoses), the best way to avoid it is to seek guidance from the veterinarian to know how to take care of the animal you chose as a companion. This included, for example, properly treating the cat to prevent it from getting fleas.

4. Anger

Giovana explains that rabies is a zoonosis caused by a virus, causing an extremely lethal, very serious disease. “It is transmitted to humans by contact with the animal’s saliva contaminated by biting, licking wounds, mucous membranes or any small scratch,” he says.

The Master in Animal Biology explains that in Brazil rabies is well controlled in urban centers. “But this was only possible with the mass vaccination of dogs and cats (in government campaigns and by private veterinarians)”, she says.

How to avoid

Giovana highlights that the vaccine protects very well against contamination. “So all dogs and cats, regardless of where they live, should be vaccinated against rabies annually,” she says.

5. Leptospirosis

Giovana says that Leptospirosis is a very serious zoonosis transmitted by bacteria present in water or food contaminated by the urine of sick animals. “In cities, the main disseminator of this disease is the rat, which is why it is so important not to come into contact with flood water,” he says.

The Master in Animal Biology explains that contaminated dogs can also transmit the disease to other animals and to humans.

How to avoid

“Dogs living in risk areas should receive the Leptospirosis vaccine every six months. In addition to being necessary to keep the environment clean and disinfected, eliminating the presence of rats”, explains Giovana.

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“If the animal is diagnosed with the disease, treatment must be started as soon as possible, intensively, with all care to avoid contagion to humans”, adds the professional.

6. Avian tuberculosis

Giovana explains that avian tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium that can survive for long periods of time in adverse conditions. “The bird becomes infected when it comes into contact with contaminated water, food and feces. In addition to poultry, pigs and cattle and humans can get contaminated,” she says.

How to avoid

Like all zoonoses, highlights Giovana, the best form of prevention is to keep the animal that lives at home healthy. “For this, it is essential that the owner of a bird takes the animal to a veterinarian trained to care for this species (Wild and Wild Animal Veterinary Doctor). In most cities there are specialist services, always recommended because they are more prepared for the differentiated care of each species”, he says.

7. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis

This is a viral disease, which affects mice and hamsters, which transmit the virus through their urine. “Many times the animal is fine, as if it were healthy, but it is eliminating the virus through the urine”, says Giovana.

The professional explains that this is also a zoonosis (disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans), causing signs of flu and meningitis.

How to avoid

Giovana emphasizes the importance of consulting a veterinarian before acquiring an animal (for more information about choice and care). “And as soon as the person acquires the animal, he must take it for a consultation. Tests will often be requested that can identify how the general health status of the animal is,” he says.

8. Salmonellosis

This is a disease caused by bacteria of the genus Salmonella, which affect several species of animals and man.

Angelica explains that reptiles are the biggest reservoirs of salmonella and can occasionally transmit it to humans.

How to avoid

To avoid contamination, according to the veterinary doctor, some care must be taken such as washing hands after handling these animals, not handling these animals in community environments such as bathroom, kitchen. “In addition, it is essential that the animal has the follow-up of a veterinarian”, she says.

9. Psittacosis

This is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that usually infect parrots (parrots, macaws, parakeets, etc.), which can eventually infect humans when they come into contact with carrier animals or with their secretions.

“Psittacosis can be transmitted to humans, as the bacteria that causes this disease can be eliminated by sick animals in the feces and feathers contaminated by secretions”, highlights Angélica.

How to avoid

According to the…

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