Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be transmitted to people from animals. Many zoonotic diseases are conveyed by contact with infected animals, either directly or indirectly. Some are spread by vectors such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Others can be transmitted through food or water.
Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable to zoonotic infections. Animal care employees are also at a higher risk of exposure.
Pet owners should take precautions to keep their pets healthy and follow their veterinarian’s recommendations for routine tests such as parasite screens. If you or a family member gets any strange symptoms, consult your doctor. A variety of zoonotic diseases can affect both pets and humans. Some are more serious than others, but all can pose a major health risk if left unchecked.
1. Cat Scratch
This condition, sometimes known as “Cat Scratch Fever,” is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae. Fleas are the most common source of infection in cats. In most cases, Bartonella henselae does not cause sickness in cats. Humans can develop cat scratch illness after being bitten or scratched by a cat that tears the skin. It can also be transmitted if an infected cat licks an open wound on a human.
Bartonella henselae frequently produces edema at the location of the injury, as well as enlargement of adjacent lymph nodes. Fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache are also common symptoms of infection. Cat scratch sickness can be fatal in rare situations, harming the eyes and other vital organs. Fortunately, most people and dogs recover completely, but antibiotics may be required.
Hookworm is a common intestinal parasite that causes diarrhea, lack of appetite, and anemia in dogs and cats. Puppies can catch hookworms from their mothers while nursing, but any dog or cat can catch hookworms by consuming hookworm larvae from the environment, eating contaminated prey, or having hookworm larvae enter their skin.
Hookworm larvae can also penetrate human skin, causing a swelling and itchy localized cutaneous reaction. In rare situations, the larvae might enter deeper tissues and create more serious difficulties. Hookworm infections, fortunately, can be treated with antiparasitic medicines. Most of injured animals and humans will recover completely.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects mammals and is considered one of the most devastating zoonotic infections. Rabies is typically spread through saliva, most typically following a bite or scrape from an infected animal. Rabies can infect any species, including dogs, cats, and people.
Rabies frequently begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to neurological impairment. It can cause changes in behavior, confusion, convulsions, and hostility. If you have been bitten by an animal, you must consult a doctor right away. To avoid the spread of this dangerous disease, all dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies on a regular basis.
It gets its name from the worm-like appearance of lesions on people’s skin. Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, is a fungal skin condition that can afflict most animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and people. Ringworm is spread through contact with an infected animal or human, or via contact with a contaminated environment. In people, the fungus often causes red, scaly, circular lesions on the skin that itch. It leads to hair loss in areas where hair normally grows.
Ringworm is a relatively simple infection to treat with antifungal medicines. Fortunately, this is not a life-threatening condition in most cases. However, once it spreads to animals and humans in the home, it can be difficult to eradicate. Individuals who are young, elderly, or have a weak immune system are most vulnerable.
Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and Ehrlichiosis. There are numerous tick-borne diseases that affect both humans and animals. These diseases, however, are not passed directly from animals to humans. Ticks, on the other hand, are required to transmit illnesses between hosts.
Many tick-borne infections have delayed symptoms that vary per disease, although the majority cause flu-like symptoms at first. Some disorders create a rash on the skin and/or joint pain.
Diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases can be complicated. Recovery depends on the disease involved and the specifics of the patient’s case.
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