When it comes to transmittable diseases, it isn’t just other people you have to worry about.
Certain conditions can pass from you to your pet, and vice versa.
Zoonoses, or diseases you can contract via contact with an infected animal, are relatively well known from rabies to toxoplasmosis.
However, there are also reverse zoonoses — diseases your pet can catch from you.
Educating yourself on the potential illnesses you’re at risk of spreading to your pet is incredibly important when it comes to preventing pet disease.
Let’s identify some of the reverse zoonoses every pet owner should know about.
How Can Illness Spread From A Human To A Pet?
Various kinds of illnesses can spread from you to your pet, with the majority being bacterial infections.
However, other types can also be spread from human to animal, including viral, parasitic, and fungal infections.
Reverse zoonotic diseases are quite rare, but they do occur with all types of animals from wildlife to household pets.
Diseases can spread to your pet via direct contact, fomites (an object such as clothing or furniture that acts as a carrier for infections), or oral or hand-to-mouth contact.
The method of transmission depends on what kind of illness is in question, so let’s discuss some specific reverse zoonotic diseases.
Illnesses Your Pet Can Catch From You
It’s an important aspect of preventative pet care to know which illnesses can and cannot be spread to your pet.
Below are some reverse zoonotic diseases you should be aware of.
As you may recall from the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, this disease (also known as swine flu) is a subtype of the influenza A virus.
During this time, a case of note occurred in which multiple family members came down with an undiagnosed flu-like illness.
Days after their illness subsided, their pet cat experienced wheezing, dehydration, and other signs of a respiratory infection.
After various extensive tests, it was determined the cat was positive for influenza A.
Thankfully, the cat (and the cat’s human family) recovered with proper treatment and monitoring of symptoms — but this case is referred to as the first evidence of influenza spreading from human to animal.
Since 2009, various pets have been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, including cats, dogs, and ferrets.
If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s recommended you avoid close contact with your furry friend.
Additionally, consider getting your annual influenza vaccination to avoid worrying about contracting the flu in the first place.
Most associate this bacterial infection with food poisoning and consuming raw poultry products, but salmonella is both zoonotic and reverse zoonotic.
This means you and your pet are at risk of contracting this disease from one another.
Symptoms of salmonella include:
- Abdominal cramps
Although cats and dogs are typically more resistant to salmonella than us humans, it’s still dangerous to expose your pet to any human gastro-intestinal bacteria.
If you or a (human) member of your family is experiencing a salmonella infection, make sure you engage in strict hygiene measures and avoid contact with your pet.
Most dog and cat parents are probably familiar with ringworm, but many are not aware you can spread this skin infection to your pet.
It’s actually one of the most common illnesses that can be transmitted between humans and animals.
In humans, ringworm (which is a fungus, not a worm) manifests as small circular patches that are inflamed, itchy, and red.
In cats and dogs, ringworm causes similar hairless circles and can often be difficult to spot.
This infection can be transmitted from you to your pet via direct or indirect contact by contaminating objects such as clothing or brushes.
Although ringworm is usually treated effectively and easily in both humans and animals, it can leave scarring.
If you spot an itchy lesion anywhere on your body, give your doctor a call and avoid close contact with your pet.
One of the more serious illnesses that can be transmitted from you to your pet is tuberculosis, also known as TB.
Tuberculosis is a chronic infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria, and it can affect almost every kind of warm-blooded mammal.
There are different kinds of bacteria known to cause tuberculosis, some of which can affect animals and some of which cannot.
For example, the M. bovis bacterium originated in cattle and is known to infect animals — however, the most common bacterium when it comes to human infection is M. tuberculosis, which rarely affects other mammals.
However, all cases of tuberculosis no matter the culprit must be treated as infectious to humans and pets alike.
Symptoms of a pet with TB include:
- Weight loss
- Abscesses or lumps
- Wounds that do not heal
Tuberculosis can be spread to cats and dogs through close contact, inhalation, or oral contact (drinking infected milk, or eating infected animals).
Although it’s a rare disease and not often seen these days as a result of vaccination, mumps is a viral infection that can be spread from you to your pet.
In fact, mumps is known to specifically affect dogs, and the symptoms caused are the same as those seen in humans with this infection.
These symptoms include fever, headache, and painfully swollen salivary glands.
Severe complications may also occur as a result of this disease, so if you’re diagnosed with mumps, ensure you keep your distance from your dog (and visit a hospital, of course).
Again, mumps is rare but not completely extinct — we still see outbreaks across the globe each year.
Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Education and preventative care are crucial tools for every proactive pet owner.
Knowing which human diseases have the potential to affect animals is a key step in helping your pet live a long and healthy life.
At Bickford Park Animal Hospital, we understand your pet is a member of the family and should be treated as such.
We would love to get to know you and your furry friends.
Contact us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital today.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.