Pets and Zoonotic Alert
Dr. Christina Frick, D.V.M.
Your pet is one of your best friends, providing you with unconditional love and companionship. You want to keep your pet healthy and your family safe from disease.
Parasitic Zoonoses are diseases primarily of animals that can be transmitted to people. There is no reason to fear zoonotic diseases or be discouraged from owning pets. But people should be aware of the risks, have regular communication with a vet, good hygiene, and these diseases can be treated and prevented.
The growing popularity of cats and dogs and the high rate of parasitic (worm) infections have resulted in widespread soil contamination from infected eggs and larvae. Since children play outside, they are the most at risk for disease transmission. Parasites can penetrate through the skin, bites, or scratches. Younger children tend to put things in their mouths and ingest animal feces. Many outdoor areas harbor zoonotic risks including playgrounds, swimming pools, campgrounds, parks and lakes.
Zoonotic disease in humans can lead to abdominal pain, skin irritations, neurologic problems and vision loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 10,000 cases of human roundworm infections occur each year.
Family members should wash their hands with soap and water after being outdoors and after handling their pets. Also do frequent “Tick Checks” when outdoors. Watch children to ensure they don’t put dirt, grass, sand, or foreign objects in their mouths.
Some zoonotic parasites you must be aware of in your animals include roundworms, hookworms, leptospira, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, giardia, ringworm and ticks.
Some signs of parasites you see in your pet may include diarrhea, vomiting, stunted growth, rough coat, bloated belly, animals that sit and drag rear along the ground, bloody stools, dehydration or loss of appetite. Some animals may show no signs of infection, but still have parasites and a simple test will confirm the diagnosis.
Advanced parasitic control medication for your pet is available at Frick Veterinary Services. Because the risk of parasites is often year round, Dr. Frick recommends a monthly parasite prevention program. For information on how to protect your pet and your family, call to set up a preventative health exam with Dr. Frick. We will assess your pet’s risk and administer broad-spectrum antiparasitics and vaccinations.
Prevent zoonotic disease and ensure they don’t spoil your family’s fun this summer.