Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, are diseases that humans can get from animals. Most zoonotic diseases are also potential reverse zoonoses, which means animals can get the disease from humans! It’s important to know what diseases to look out for, and make sure you take appropriate precautions to keep your family healthy. Be sure to talk to your vet about what zoonotic diseases are found in your area!
Of course, your veterinarian can only diagnose and treat your animal. If you are concerned that you have a zoonotic disease, you will need to see your physician for care.
Here are some of the more common zoonoses in our pets; please be aware that this list is not comprehensive and there are many more zoonotic diseases that are seen less frequently!
Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is not actually a worm; it’s a fungus! Many different types of mammals can carry ringworm, including dogs, cats, exotic small mammals, and of course people!
There are many types of different mites that can infect our animals, from Sarcoptic Mange to Cheyletiella to Demodex. Not all mites can infect people, but many mites found on mammals can cause transient itching and irritation. Note: Lice is actually not a zoonoses; each type of lice only likes to infect a specific species of animal, but lice look a lot like mites! If you think your pet has mites (or lice) be sure to call your vet!
Salmonella is particularly of concern for reptiles. Salmonella can live on and around your reptile without actually affecting your animal, but still is a risk to people. We cannot completely get rid of the salmonella in most cases, so it’s very important to always make sure you wash your hands after handling a reptile, and do not allow a reptile to roam freely in the house!
Hookworms and roundworms are intestinal parasites that are commonly found in dogs and cats. These two parasites can infect humans, so it’s very important to check a fecal sample regularly to make sure any infection gets treated right away. And of course, always wash your hands after picking up poop or scooping the litterbox!
Leptospirosis is a very dangerous bacteria spread in mammal urine. Dogs are particularly at risk for picking up infections outside; be sure to talk to your vet about Leptospirosis and if it is a risk in your area!
Psittacosis is a respiratory disease found in companion birds which can spread to humans. Most veterinarians recommend testing all new susceptible birds to ensure the disease is not brought into the household!
And when in doubt, call your vet for your pet, and your physician for your family!