While pets give us countless hours of love and fun and all of the unconditional love we could want, there are certain parasites and germs that pets may pass to us. These conditions are known as zoonotic diseases. Probably the largest group of infectious agents involve various parasites and bacteria of the digestive tract. These include common intestinal worms, including roundworms and hookworms. While roundworms and hookworms are usually only a problem in young children under conditions of poor hygiene, the potential risk to people stresses the importance of controlling and preventing these parasites in our animal companions through use of common wormers such as pyrantel, and monthly heartworm preventative medication such as Iverhart Plus or Heartgard Plus, which also control most of these intestinal parasites in pets.
Giardia is another common cause of diarrhea in people and pets. Contaminated ponds, streams and water are usually the source of most of the Giardia infections in mammals. Toxoplasmosis is a rare disease that is usually only a risk to pregnant women. That is why pregnant women should never change kitty litterboxes. By having annual stool checks on our animal companions we can definitely prevent the potential transmission of these diseases to people.
There are also flea and tick transmitted diseases that pets may occasionally play a role in transmitting to people. These include Bartonella (or cat scratch fever), Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis. Even heartworms may occasionally infect people. This stresses the importance of excellent flea and tick control on pets with products such as Flea4X or Flea3X, as well as the monthly use of heartworm medications.
Viral infectious disease such as rabies may be a health risk to people, which is why it is important to keep pets current on rabies vaccination. Finally there are occasional skin parasites such as ringworm or scabies that may affect people. Prompt treatment of these skin conditions in pets is needed to control risk to humans.