There are millions of animal lovers all over the world, and pets are important parts of the lives of many families. Although there are many benefits offered by pet ownership, how many people know about its risks to human health?
People who consider their dog, cat, bird, hamster, or any other animal in their household a family member are very right. Pets provide companionship and comfort but most importantly, unconditional love. They don’t care if you’re rich or poor, or about your education level, nor are they judgemental. That is why we cannot help but love them back.
Actually, a recent study revealed that the notorious puppy eyes trigger a 300% increase in the owner’s oxytocin level, which is the love hormone responsible for maternal bonding.
Pets really offer multiple benefits to human health, especially when it comes to mental health. For example, the relationship with pets increases the social skills in children suffering from autism. Also, there is a strong link between pet ownership and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Animals can also improve owners’ thoughts and attitudes by absorbing negative energy and transforming it into a positive one. Any pet owner can describe numerous occasions when his or her pet managed to distract the attention from various stress factors.
However, while pets can improve human health in various ways, they can also spread infection and even cause illnesses.
Campylobacter is a bacterium which is known to be one of the most common causes of diarrhea. The infection with this bacteria is called campylobacteriosis, and can also cause abdominal pain, cramping, as well as fever, within two to five days of exposure to this bacteria.
Most of the cases are generated by exposure to contaminated food like meat, eggs, and water. Still, it can be contracted through exposure to the stool of an infected animal, which includes cats and dogs. The bacteria is very common in kittens and puppies of up to six months, although adults can carry it as well.
This infection is rarely fatal, but people with very weak immune systems, as well as young children and the elderly, are most at risk.
Salmonellosis is not usually carried by fluffy pets like cats and dogs, but by reptiles like snakes, lizards, and turtles which are also popular pets. These are interesting creatures, to say the least, but they are also carriers of Salmonella.
It is very easy to contract it by simply touching an infected reptile or by ingesting the germs. There are over a million people who become ill from Salmonella each year in the United States, according to the CDC. More than 70,000 are provoked through contact with reptiles.
Individuals who become infected usually experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of being infected. Depending on the case, this may last from four to seven days. Most people fully recover without treatment. However, there are also cases that might require hospitalization.
Dogs, cats, or other small animals like ferrets can also transmit rabies, which is one of the most severe diseases humans can contract from them. Rabies kills about 59,000 people all over the world, each year.
The disease infects the central nervous system and can cause fever, weakness, and headache. Later, it progresses to full or partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, as well as difficulty in swallowing. If left untreated, it is often fatal.
There are only a few diseases animals can transmit to humans. Some of them are easy to treat and do not even require treatment, while others can lead to severe symptoms, and even death.
Prevention is the key
The solution is not avoiding to adopt pets anymore. However, there are things we can do in order to prevent any unpleasant health situations. Hygiene is one of the most important actions against the majority of animal-related infections.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water each time you touch your pet. Also, it is important to dispose of feces as quickly as possible. Moreover, maintain your pet’s habitat clean, and make sure you purchase accessories that can be cleaned thoroughly.
For example, on petsinuniform.com you can find a lot of information about accessories for hamsters. Another thing to do is to make sure your pet gets all the necessary vaccines and controls he or she needs.
It would really be a shame not to enjoy the company of your beloved pet due to some kind of disease you might contract.