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how to prevent zoonotic diseases

No messing around here: For safety's sake, it’s very important to prevent zoonotic diseases.

Zoonotic diseases are passed between animals and humans. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

Most families interact with animals daily. We keep animals in our homes as pets. We come into close contact with animals at county fairs and petting zoos.

Remember your Mom always imploring: “Wash your hands!” after you patted a stray dog or cat? Well, she was right. It is the key to preventing zoonotic diseases.

how to prevent zoonotic diseases at home.

It’s not just the strays you have to worry about; all animals can potentially transmit diseases. So it's important to be aware of the different ways zoonotic diseases can be transmitted.

The primary routes to infection are human contact with the saliva, blood, urine, or feces of an infected animal. Here are common zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans, and how you can prevent them.

1. campylobacteriosis (campylobacter enteritis)

Campylobacteriosis is a bacteria found worldwide in the intestinal tracts of animals. In people, it causes gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.

Young animals such as puppies and kittens are the most severely affected. It can spread to family members who come into contact with contaminated feces.

To prevent campylobacteriosis, clean up pet stools carefully - with pooper scoopers and bags, and using gloves while cleaning the cat box. Never touch animal feces with bare hands.

2. cat scratch fever (bartonella henselae infection)

This bacterial disease is spread by cat scratches and bites that break the surface of the skin. About 40 percent of cats carry this bacteria at some point in their lives - and most show no signs of illness.

Kittens under one year of age are the most likely carriers.

About three to 14 days after the skin is broken, the infected area may appear swollen and red with round, raised lesions and have pus.

It can also cause fever, headache, poor appetite and exhaustion. Kittens are more likely to carry it than older cats.

To prevent it, if your cat scratches or bites you, remember the cleaning routine: wash both the wounds and your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds.

3. mycobacterium.

This is a bacteria found in fish and aquarium water. Exposure can result in swollen lymph glands in kids or more serious illnesses for the immune compromised. Wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning out the fish house.

4. ringworm.

Despite its name – ringworm is not a worm at all. It is a zoonotic disease transmitted from direct contact with an infected animal's skin or hair.

Dogs and cats, especially kittens or puppies, can have ringworm and pass it to people. Diligent cleaning and hand-washing will pay off here. Regularly disinfect your home's surfaces, and make sure kids wash their hands after animal contact.

5. pet roundworms.

These worms are found in infected cat and dog feces. In humans, they can cause fever, cough, loss of appetite, and congestion. Never touch feces with bare hands. Period.

6. salmonellosis.

This bacteria, also passed through animal feces, can cause diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some 70,000 people get it each year just from handling reptiles. You can also get it from touching horses, baby chicks and ducklings.

To its transmission, don't let kids under age 5 handle baby chicks and ducks. And have the kids wash hands their thoroughly after handling animals or touching aquariums.

Always wear disposal gloves when cleaning the cat box so you don't come into direct contact with feces.Always wear disposal gloves when cleaning the cat box so you don't come into direct contact with feces.

7. toxoplasmosis.

This is caused by a parasite found in animal feces.

In most cases, you feel like you have the flu, but it can be serious for immune compromised people, pregnant women, and small children. You can get this from eating raw meat or even gardening.

It’s also easy to prevent: Simply remember to have everyone in the family always wash their hands after changing litter, and don’t let your cat eat raw meat. If at all possible, keep your cat inside so it doesn’t eat small animals.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for safety products and tools to keep kids and pets safe.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.