Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are diseases that can be transmitted directly or indirectly from animals to humans. Several zoonotic diseases are caused by parasites. Parasites are organisms that grow, feed and are sheltered inside of a host organism (for example, your pet) and do not contribute anything to its survival. If left untreated, some of these parasites can cause significant damage to your pet's health.
Zoonotic parasites are primarily transmitted from a contaminated environment, especially since parasite eggs cannot be seen by the naked eye and may be present in the feces of an infected animal. Certain parasite eggs can survive in the soil for years and remain infective.
Some steps you can take to protect your pet and family:
1. Deworm your pet on a regular schedule as recommended by your veterinarian.
2. Wash hands regularly, especially after handling pets or cleaning up pet waste.
3. Remove pet waste from your yard daily to eliminate potential contamination.
4. Cover children's sandboxes when not in use.
5. Clean cat litter boxes daily and wash hands afterwards.
6. Keep pets clean; bathe pets after deworming.
7. Keep pets flea-free; fleas transmit disease and ingested fleas can transmit tapeworms to pets and people.
8. Do not allow children to go barefoot, sit or lie down in places where they are exposed to animal stools.
9. Do not drink water from sources that may be contaminated with animal feces.
10. Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
Canine Parasitic Diseases
Tick-borne Diseases - Ticks carry a number of diseases, some of which can be transmitted to people. The risk is not high but there is increased risk for diseases, such as Lyme disease, when ticks are brought into the household by a family pet.
Two common flea-associated diseases are:
1. Bartonella (Cat-Scratch Disease)
1. Bartonella, or cat scratch disease, may be transmitted by cat fleas. Many infected cats lack symptoms of Bartonella. However, symptoms may include: fever, loss of appetite, sensitivity to noise or light, incoordination, and enlarged lymph nodes.
In humans, symptoms of Bartonella may include: skin rashes, enlarged lymph nodes, recurring fever, generalized muscle pain, hepatitis, and problems with the central nervous system.
2. Tapeworms may also be transmitted to dogs and cats via fleas. This occurs specifically if a flea is ingested by a cat or dog, typically while grooming. Infective tapeworm larvae live in the flea; once in the digestive tract of the pet, the larvae develop into adult tapeworms.
Although adult tapeworms do not typically harm most pets unless they are malnourished, the presence of tapeworms does indicate a flea infestation. Most importantly, people may become infected with tapeworms if they happen to swallow an infected flea.
Q: If I don't see fleas and ticks, do I still need to use these products?
A: Yes. Even if you haven't seen any fleas and ticks, it is still possible for your pet to be infested. Visible adult fleas only represent 5% of the flea population and the remaining 95% are living in your pet's environment. Therefore, continuous prevention is necessary. Continuous tick prevention is also important.
Q: I am worried that I cannot afford monthly flea and tick prevention. Is it necessary in order to keep my pet healthy?
A: It is essential to your pet's health to maintain an effective flea and tick prevention program. Remember that preventing fleas and ticks and the possible diseases that they could transmit to your pet is much easier and less expensive than treating an existing flea or tick infestation or associated disease.
Q: What else can I do to protect my pet, in addition to proper prevention?
A: The following recommendations may help to limit your pet's exposure to fleas and ticks:
? Vacuum frequently
? Take care of your yard by mowing, raking, and trimming bushes