Pet owners should not let their furry friends sleep in their bedroom, let alone on their beds. This is the advice given by a leading veterinary surgeon.
The message seems to be that pet owners need to be more cautious about the possible spread of diseases from household pets.
What is zoonoses?
There are many infections and diseases that can be passed from animals to people. The medical term for these are zoonoses.
The spread of infections and diseases from animals to humans are very rare. However, a recent study carried out by veterinary specialists has suggested that new emerging diseases tend to be passable from animals to humans.
All animals have the ability to pass on certain infections to humans, but it's worth stressing that this is very rare
The most direct way that you can get an infection from an animal is by being bitten, or if you come into close contact with their stools (feces). There is also a very small chance of an infection being passed through contaminated water or food.
However, there is no need to panic. Simply make sure you get in the habit of practicing good hygiene (see section below) to reduce your risk of infection.
What infections can be passed on?
There are many infections that animals can pass on to humans. Here are a few examples:
Ringworm - a fungal infection of the skin can be passed on from dogs, cats and hamsters. People who work with animals tend to be more prone to the infection.
Toxocariasis - this infection is caused by worms found in dogs and cats feces. Toxocariasis cannot be spread from person to person.
Toxoplasmosis - is caused by a parasite found in cat stools. It can also be found in undercooked and infected meat, or by using contaminated kitchen utensils. Toxoplasmosis cannot be spread from person to person.
Practice good hygiene
Because we live in close proximity with our pets it's important to follow good hygiene practices. These simple tips will help reduce the likelihood of your cat of dog passing on an infection.
Wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure you use an antibacterial soap after handling your pets - this is particularly essential before preparing food.
Teach your children to always wash their hands. Alternatively you could wipe their hands with a cleaning wipe, especially before they eat anything.
Make sure children stay clear of dog and cat feces. Don't let children play around a litter tray, and avoid dog litter bins when down at the park.
Ensure your pets are in good health. Remember to keep all their booster shots (vaccinations) up-to-date. Having regular check-ups at the vets can also spot any possible infections.
Keep your pets fur clean. This may simply involve cleaning their paws if they have dug up any soil or a thorough shampoo after swimming in the local pond!
So you don't have to completely shun your canine or feline companions - just keep in mind to follow sensible hygiene procedures.
I think the most important thing that determines whether or infections get transferred is the overall health and immune systrems of both the pets and owners. If they both live healthy lifestyles and choose biologically appopriate foods, being surrounded by these pets will not cause harm.