Infections transmitted by pets


It is true that one of the most common signs of affection we have with our dog is "kissing him". It seems harmless to us, however, we must bear in mind that there are certain diseases that humans can acquire from animals. Find out if we can get the so-called ‘canine distemper’.

Canine distemper or distemper in dogs, is a disease caused by a virus of the Paramyxovirus family, specifically of the genus Morbillivirus, so it is a viral disease and is spread through the infection that occurs by this virus. It is highly contagious among dogs and other breeds such as wolves, coyotes and foxes, among others.

Although any dog ​​can suffer it, it is a very common disease in puppies and in those with a low defense. You can prevent the disease through vaccines and lactating puppies can be protected if the mother is vaccinated.

Contagion occurs when a healthy dog ​​is in contact with the virus particles, which travel through the air, liquids or fluids, such as urine or water from which they drink. For these particles to be present in that area, there must have been a sick dog with distemper.

Can we get it yes or no?

The distemper of dogs is NOT spread to humans, since it is not a zoonosis, that is, it is not a disease that is transmitted from an animal to people. The only thing that can happen if this virus affects a person is that he or she suffers from symptoms such as those of a mild flu but nothing more, although of course it should be examined by a doctor.

Of course, a person with a very damaged immune system could become infected with this disease.

How pets spread infections

Like humans, all animals are germ carriers. The most common diseases among pets (such as distemper, canine parvovirus and heartworm disease) cannot be transmitted to humans.

But pets are also carriers of some bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that can cause diseases in humans that they infect. Humans develop these diseases transmitted by other animals when they receive a bite or scratch or when they come in contact with feces, saliva or animal dander.

These diseases can affect humans in many different ways. They are more worrisome when they affect young children, infants, pregnant women and people whose immune system is weakened due to illness or another condition. Children who have not yet turned 5 are those who are most exposed because their immune system is still developing. In addition, some infections that only slightly ill an adult can be much more serious in this population group.

Healthy families, healthy pets

But it is also not necessary that you give up on acquiring a pet or that you take your family's furry friend away from home. Pets can enrich your family life and, if you adopt a series of precautions, you can protect your children from communicable diseases.

Protecting your family from infections transmitted by pets is something that must be started before the pet comes home. For example, the presence of reptiles or amphibians should not be allowed in a house where infants and / or young children live.

Also consider the health status and age of your children before acquiring a pet. A pet that requires frequent handling is not recommended for any immunocompromised child (such as children affected by an HIV infection, those suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, or those who frequently use prednisone). Children with eczema should avoid aquariums.

Dogs and cats

Dogs and cats are among the pets that have more followers but may be carriers of infections such as (*):

  • Campylobacter infection (or campylobacteriosis). It can be transmitted by bacteria-carrying pets Campylobacter jejuni, which causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever in humans. The bacteria may be present in the digestive tract of dogs, cats, hamsters, birds and some farm animals. A person can get the infection if it comes in contact with contaminated water, feces, undercooked meat (raw medium) or unpasteurized milk.
    In the US, more than two million cases of infection occur annually. Campylobacterand the bacteria C. jejuni It is considered the main cause of current bacterial gastroenteritis. Infections Campylobacter They are contagious, especially among members of the same family and among children who go to daycare or nursery school. This infection is treated with antibiotics.
  • Cat scratch disease. It can occur when a person receives the bite or scratch of a cat previously infected by the bacteria Bartonella henselae. Symptoms include: inflammation and discomfort in lymph nodes, fever, headache and fatigue. It is a disease that usually remits without any treatment. However, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics in severe cases. Cat scratch disease is associated with long-term complications very rarely.
  • Anger. This serious disease is caused by a virus that enters the body through a bite or wound contaminated by the saliva of an infected animal. Animals that may carry rabies virus include dogs, cats, raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. The widespread use of the rabies vaccine in dogs and cats has reduced the transmission of rabies within these species and also in humans. Human rage is extremely rare in the US. and there is a rabies vaccine to be administered in case of a bite from a potentially rabid animal.
  • Rocky mountain spotted fever. It is transmitted by ticks infected by the bacteria Rickettsia ricketsii. Its symptoms include: high fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches, as well as a rash that extends over wrists, ankles, palms, soles of the feet and trunk. Rocky mountain spotted fever, which can be treated with antibiotics, is more common in the southern part of the central US region. and in the southern region of the US Atlantic coast.
  • Ringworm It is a skin infection caused by various types of fungi present in the earth and on the skin of humans and pets. Children can get it by touching infected animals, such as dogs and cats. Tinea cornea (or tinea corporis) usually consists of a round, dry and scaly area of ​​the skin, surrounded by a red, bulky contour that protrudes over the surface of the skin. When it affects the scalp, the area, apart from being scaly and red, may be inflamed. There are usually bald areas. Ringworm is treated with antifungal medication, in the form of shampoo, cream or orally administered medication.
  • Toxocariasis It is a disease caused by parasitic earthworm Toxocara, which lives in the intestines of dogs and cats. The eggs of these worms are eliminated through the feces of dogs and cats, which usually pollute the soil where children sit. When a child ingests contaminated soil, the eggs open in their intestines and the larvae spread to other body organs, an infection called visceral larva migrans. Symptoms include: fever, cough or wheezing, enlarged liver, rash and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms may subside without any treatment or the doctor may prescribe medication to kill the larvae. When the larvae of the intestine make their way through the bloodstream to the eye, this condition is called ocular toxocariasis, or ocular migrans larva and can lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Toxoplasmosis This disease is contracted after coming into contact with a parasite present in the feces of cats. In most healthy people, toxoplasmosis infection is asymptomatic. When you have symptoms, these may include: swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and rash. In pregnant women, toxoplasmosis can cause abortions and premature births, as well as blindness and serious illness in the newborn. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid coming into contact with cat droppings. People whose immune system is weakened by diseases such as HIV infection or cancer are at greater risk of serious complications if they get a toxoplasmosis infection.
  • Bite infections of dogs and cats. Dog and cat bites can become infected and cause significant problems, especially when they affect the face or hands. Cat bites tend to be worse, partly because they are more punctured and deeper wounds. Major bite wounds should be thoroughly washed. This type of wounds usually requires treatment in the doctor's office or in an emergency medical service, sometimes it is necessary to administer antibiotics.

Birds that live at home as pets can transmit the following diseases even if they live in cages:

  • Cryptococcosis It is a disease triggered by a fungus that is contracted when a person inhales organisms present in the droppings of birds (especially those of pigeons). It can cause pneumonia. People whose immune system is weakened by diseases such as HIV infection or cancer are more likely to get this disease and develop serious complications, such as meningitis.
  • The psittacosis Also known as "parrot fever", it is a disease of bacterial origin that can be contracted by coming into contact with infected poultry feces or with the dust that accumulates in bird cages. Its symptoms include: cough, high fever and headache. It is treated with antibiotics.

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles (from lizards and lizards to snakes and turtles) and amphibians (such as frogs, toads and salamanders) expose children to the risk of contracting:

  • Salmonellosis Reptile and amphibian feces contain the bacteria Salmonella. People can get this infection by touching the animal's skin, its cage or other contaminated surfaces. Salmonellosis has symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Young children are exposed to the risk of contracting the most serious forms of this disease, including dehydration, meningitis and sepsis (blood infection).

Does the makeup last? When does a dog with distemper last?

It is important that we understand how the distemper is produced in order to cure it. The distemper in dogs is due to the spread of a virus. This means that antibiotics don't help cure it and that the only way to prevent it effectively is through the vaccine.

It is important that as soon as a puppy arrives in your life, you vaccinate it immediately against the distemper. This vaccine is nothing more than a very weakened distemper virus, enough so that your dog's immune system can learn to fight it when "the real one" comes.

However, getting vaccinated does not mean being immune to distemper. All viruses mutate, which means that the vaccine must be renewed as well as being well fed and happy to your dog so that a virus does nothing. Remember that a happy dog ​​is a healthy dog.

Is distemper contagious to humans? Can they spread it to dogs?

The distemper virus affects dogs, not humans, but people can still spread it to other animals. The reason is found in the symptoms of the disease, because what does a dog with distemper do? He coughs and has boogers. If your dog sneezes on your clothes, the virus will stay there. When you walk, if you cross with another furry, it will jump to your body and spread it.

May this serve as a warning: if you see a dog in the street with boogers in his truffle, conjunctivitis and that presents discomfort in daylight, do not go near him and inform his caretaker of the danger, that will help prevent I passed it to another. If you see it on the street, notify the protector, because it can be a carrier of a very hard, resistant and contagious virus. If you decide to approach, then wash the clothes thoroughly.

Other animals

Handling and caring for rodents, such as hamsters and gerbils, or fish can expose children to the risk of contracting:

  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis. People can get lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus by inhaling particles from the urine, feces or saliva of infected rodents, such as mice and hamsters. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis can occur with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting and can even trigger meningitis (inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain ). Like most viruses, there is no specific treatment, but some of the patients may need to be hospitalized. As with toxoplasmosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis can be transmitted by an infected mother to her fetus.
  • Mycobacterium marinum infection. This infection can be contracted by people exposed to contaminated waters in aquariums or swimming pools. Although it is usually a mild infection that affects only the skin, it can be more serious in those affected by an HIV infection or who have a weakened immune system.

Canine distemper treatment, how is it cured?

An infection or a disease caused by a bacterium is cured with antibiotics, but these viruses have no effect, so why are they used in the treatment of the disease? The presence of a virus inside an organism always produces a lack of appetite, loss of mood and weakness. All this facilitates access to bacteria, which leads to the appearance of opportunistic diseases.

If you see that your dog has mucus, vomits, is very tired and has conjunctivitis, take it without losing a second to the veterinarian. The treatment for canine distemper will be effective if your dog is strong in health, well fed and, especially, if it has been vaccinated. Your dog can catch distemper even if it is vaccinated, but if your immune system already knows it, you can fight it much more easily.

Precautions to follow when adopting or buying a pet

If you intend to adopt or buy a pet, make sure that the breeder, animal shelter or pet shop where you go are well accredited and vaccinated or all animals. A well-accredited breeder should be affiliated with a club or association of national or local breeders, such as the "American Kennel Club"(an American canine club that issues its own rules on dog breeding). Contact the"Humane Society"from the US or with your pet's future veterinarian to inform you about the animal shelters closest to your area.

As soon as you choose your family's pet, take it to the veterinarian to administer the relevant vaccines and do a physical examination. Do not forget to vaccinate your pet again according to the vaccination program recommended by the veterinarian, thus keeping your pet healthy and reducing the chances that he can transmit infections to his children.

You will also have to feed your pet daily with nutritious food for animals (ask the veterinarian for information) and offer fresh water. Avoid feeding your pet with raw meat because it could be an important focus of infections and do not let him drink the water from the toilet, since many infections can be transmitted through saliva, urine and feces.

Limit the contact that your young children have with stray dogs, which hunt and kill animals, because animals that ingest infected meat can get that infection and transmit it to humans.

Caring for a pet safely

Here are a series of tips to help your family take care of your pet safely:

  • Always wash your hands, especially after touching the pet, handling its food, cleaning the cage, food or drinking containers or the droppings drawer. Put on gloves when cleaning or picking up the pet's droppings and, if it is a bird, put on a dust mask over the mouth and nose when cleaning the animal's cage so as not to inhale particles from its urine or feces . Do not let children who are responsible for cleaning the cage or drawer of excrement unless they have the supervision of an adult or who have proven themselves to be able to proceed safely and responsibly (again, they should wash their hands when finished).
  • Avoid kissing or touching your pet with your mouth, as infections can be transmitted through saliva. Also, do not share food with your pet.
  • Keep the area where your pet lives clean. If your pet makes their excrement abroad, collect them regularly and do not allow your children to play there.
  • Do not let your pet in places where food is prepared or handled and do not bathe or clean your cage or aquarium in the kitchen sink or bathtub. Wash the macota outdoors or talk to the veterinarian to recommend a professional to wash it.
  • Avoid unknown animals or those that appear to be sick. Never adopt a wild animal as if it were domestic.

Watch your children carefully when they interact with the pet. Young children are more likely to get infections transmitted by the family pet because they crawl on the ground, kiss the pet, share food with it or put their fingers in their mouths and then take them to their own mouths. Also, if your children go to a children's zoo, a farm or a friend's house where animals live, make sure they know how important it is to wash their hands.

To ensure the comfort of your pet and the safety of your family, check for problems related to fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can carry diseases that are very easy to transmit to children. There are medications that are taken orally to control fleas and ticks, avoid the flea collar if you have young children because children can touch it and get sick by inhaling the chemicals it contains. Check regularly if your pet has fleas or ticks and also look at bites and scratches, which can make your pet more vulnerable to infections. When they go outside, take your pet tied with a leash and keep it away from animals that appear to be sick or not well vaccinated.

And, finally, sterilize or cover your pet. This will reduce your contact with other animals that could be infected, especially if your pet goes outside a lot.

How canine distemper develop?

The cause of the canine distemper is a virus that belongs to the family of paramyxoviridae - the same that causes measles in people - and affects not only domestic dogs, but also other species such as the jackal, the fox, the wolf, the coyote, the raccoon and the coati.

While it is not transmitted to humans, it is a very contagious disease among animals and can put their lives at risk. It mainly affects puppies and elderly dogs, in case the former have not been vaccinated and the latter do not have a strong immune system.

Complying with the mandatory vaccination schedule is the best way to avoid the spread and spread of canine distemper. There is a specific vaccine that treats the virus, but its effectiveness is not total.

How is canine distemper spread?

When an animal infected with distemper coughs, sneezes, or is simply present somewhere, it "leaves" the particles with the virus in the air. If a healthy dog ​​passes through that site or breathes these microorganisms, contagion occurs.

At the same time, if the patient eats or drinks water from a container that is then used by another, there is also a possibility that the latter is infected. This means that any dog ​​is at risk of getting distemper, but when it has been vaccinated the percentage of disease development in your body is very low.

It is necessary to know that puppies are the most vulnerable to infection. Why? Because they have not yet been inoculated accordingly. In addition, if the mother has not been vaccinated, she cannot offer them that protection through milk.

Small dogs are not yet strong enough to deal with a virus of such magnitude. Something similar happens with elderly or sick dogs.

Symptoms of canine distemper

Once the virus is installed in the body of the animal (host) it is incubated for approximately two weeks. After that time is when the first symptoms begin to be noticed.

The initial sign of the disease is watery or yellowish discharge - with pus - in the eyes and nostrils. Then the animal will suffer fever, cough, weakness, lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting and even thickening in the pads of the legs.

When the disease is very advanced the nervous system is compromised, so it may suffer partial or complete spasms, seizures or paralysis.

It is necessary to know that most dogs that get distemper die. And that small number of survivors suffer many health and behavioral problems due to damage to their nervous system.

Is there a treatment for canine distemper?

Unfortunately, A complete cure for the virus has not yet been achieved once it is installed in the animal's body. Administering the vaccine will have no effect on the disease.

Before the appearance of the first symptom it is essential to take our pet to the veterinarian, who will be responsible for testing and diagnosing it. The treatment is based on alleviating the symptoms and preventing them from getting worse, as well as reducing dehydration and preventing new infections.

Antibiotics can help, as well as vitamin supplements to reduce certain symptoms. But you should keep in mind that the disease will continue and, if necessary, the veterinarian can advise euthanasia to prevent the animal from suffering.

The only way to prevent a dog from getting canine distemper is through vaccination. The appropriate age to receive inoculation is between six and eight weeks. It is then given annual reinforcement for life and, in females, when they are pregnant. As they say, prevention is the best treatment.

Yamila Papa Painter is a sports journalist (Circle of sports journalists, 2006-2008). Between 2010 and 2011 he worked as sports journalist in "Argentinos Pasión".

Since 2011 he works in the article writing on different topics: health, sports, travel, pets and cooking recipes, among them. It is also radio and television broadcaster, and a great enthusiast for natural life. It is vegetarian and active participant of a foundation in charge of planting trees in his country of origin, Argentina. In terms of languages, he is fluent in English and Portuguese, and has a basic level of Arabic.

He recently completed his training with the course of: »Introduction to Food and Health» (Stanford University, 2019)

The disease of which we speak in this article is known by several names: ricketsiois, hemorrhagic fever or ehrlichiosis of the dog. It is a serious infectious disease, and must be diagnosed in time. Keep reading if you want ...

If you are one of those who like outdoor activities very much or you have a dog, you will be interested to know what are the diseases transmitted by ticks and what to do to avoid them. Ticks, one of the most hated insects, ...

Maybe at some point you have wondered if dogs can suffer from tetanus. If so, why don't we vaccinate them against the disease? The answer is that, although dogs can suffer from this disease, they are relatively resistant ...

Contagious canine hepatitis is a worldwide disease that ranges from very mild cases to fatal cases. There is no treatment for this viral disease, so if your dog is infected, you should try to control the disease and ...

Surely you've ever heard of the dog's hip dysplasia. But do you really know what it is, what its causes are and how it is treated? If you want to know more about this disease, in this article we give you all ...

Surely you've ever heard of anemia. Both humans and animals can suffer. Anemia in cats is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or red blood cells. These are the cells in charge of ...

- Respiratory system

It is the most representative symptom of the virus. Dogs begin to runny, cough and produce eye secretion (conjunctivitis), usually accompanied by swelling of the eyelids. This means that sometimes they can't even open their eyes and the light bothers them.

They have difficulty breathing due to the obstruction caused by the mucus. If the virus affects the lung, it can lead to pneumonitis.

- Digestive system

If it affects the digestive system, the virus will produce symptoms such as stomach flu, with vomiting and / or diarrhea. If this is the only apparent symptom that our dog has, it should not be associated directly with canine distemper, as it may be another disease. In this case, the veterinarian's diagnosis will be the most appropriate.

How does distemper heal in dogs?

The vet will give you vitamins, liquid and will cut off all the symptoms that the distemper causes. It will make you rest and will keep you in isolation and guarded until you recover. Depending on your health, your age, weight and energy, the distemper will last more or less on your body. So remember: a timely vaccination can save your life.

Specifically, the great challenge that the veterinarian has is to ensure that your dog does not become dehydrated. In this, the distemper looks a lot like parvovirus. The two can cause your dog to run out of liquids and nutrients, which would end up meaning death for him.

Canine distemper is very dangerous in puppies

To finish this article, you should know that although the distemper can be contracted at any age, puppies are more likely to get it. The reason is that your immune system is weaker so it is more prone to this type of virus. Parvovirus is also lethal at this age.. As we want you to spend many wonderful years with your furry, we invite you to ask all the questions you want to our online veterinarians.

Have you been left with doubts? Ask our veterinarians: