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Can your dog pass on any diseases to you?

Updated on February 18, 2012

Dogs are great companions. These loyal and sweet friends love humans unconditionally. However, these animals that give us a lot of joy can also give us diseases. Yes, Fido can carry bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted to humans. Not all canine diseases can be transferred to humans but there are some that can seriously affect people. These zoonotic diseases are more harmful to children and to people with weak immune system.

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Intestinal parasites

Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms are intestinal parasites that can be transmitted by the dog to people. These intestinal parasites can be transmitted through the feces or through the saliva of an infected dog. A flea acts as the intermediate host that transfers the hookworm eggs to humans. Intestinal parasites are more predominant in children because kids are not very discriminating in what they handle. Children can touch contaminated surfaces and then put the hand in their mouth. Moreover, kids are noted to have weaker immune systems.

Fungi

Ringworm, despite the name is not a type of worm but a contagious skin disease that can be transmitted from dogs to humans through direct skin to skin contact. Microsporum canis, a slow growing fungus in dogs can contaminate clothing, brushes and other objects that have come in contact with an infected dog. The fungal infection will be transferred to the pet owners if the spores come in contact with the skin.

External parasites

Fleas, ticks and mites are internal parasites that can attack both dogs and humans. Flea infestation would be very uncomfortable but the diseases that can be brought home by a tick-infested dog are more serious. Tick borne diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are caused by spirochetes and rickettsia bacteria that are transferred to humans by ticks that infest the dog. Headache, fever, swollen and painful joints, rashes and other neurological signs are the symptoms of these diseases.

Rabies

Rabies is a dreaded fatal disease that is transmitted to humans through a saliva-infected bite of a rabid dog. Post-exposure prophylaxis is a must for this zoonotic disease as it can have potentially fatal consequences. Rabies virus travels to the central nervous system through the peripheral nerves and causes the inflammation of the brain. The migration of the virus to the central nervous system usually takes a few months in humans. Treatment must be administered before the onset of symptoms given that when severe symptoms are manifested, the disease becomes untreatable. Infected human can expire in a matter of days.

Prevention

Yes, it’s true. Our beloved four legged friends can pass on germs, viruses and bacteria to humans. But this should not put off people from the decision to get a dog. These animals certainly make a whole lot of difference to the quality of human lives. To some extent, humans are vulnerable to the zoonotic disease but this can be rectified with simple precautionary measures to minimize the possibility of getting sick. The importance of vaccinations for the pet can never be stressed enough. Equally important is the maintenance of good hygiene. The simple habit of washing the hands after touching the pet would do a lot in preventing the occurrence of these zoonitic diseases.

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