What with the H1N1 virus being a common topic of both conversations and worries, several questions are slowly arising involving Zoonotic Diseases and viruses. Just what types of conditions can you and your pet cat share or spread?
Known most commonly as the Bird Flu or H5N1 virus, officials in Thailand have reported fatalities in both leopards and tigers caused by this flu strain. While cases have not yet been reported of pet cats becoming infected or spreading the virus, laboratory studies have proven that all felines can become infected and or simply remain carriers.
Cat Scratch Disease
Many people know this disease as “cat scratch fever”. Despite the popular song, this disease can actually be quite serious. It is most common for kittens to be carriers of the disease, thus washing all scratches and bites from cats is the best course of avoiding infection of this disease. Symptoms in humans include swollen lymph nodes (the head, neck, and arms are generally the most affected), fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection which can be fatal to those suffering from other conditions, the young, and the elderly. Symptoms in cats include diarrhea (which may or may not contain blood), fever, and vomiting. Symptoms in humans are similar to that of cats and may also include severe abdominal cramps. Over the last few years, several recalls involving various pet foods and treats have led to panic among pet owners. Proper sanitation after handling cat waste is the only preventative measure which can currently be taken.
While many pet owners are aware of the risks of rabies, the majority do not understand exactly what this virus consists of. Rabies greatly affects the nervous system and can only be transmitted through bite from an infected animal. Keeping all pets updated on vaccines is the best preventative measure.
This common parasite infection is found in the intestines of cats and kittens. While infections typically are not serious in nature, complications sometimes occur which include various eye and vision problems which may lead to blindness and dangerous swelling of organs. Worm portions are shed through the stool of an infected animal and can easily be seen by humans. To prevent infection, keep your cat updated on all vaccines and necessary treatments, wash hands thoroughly after playing with an infected cat or when near feces, and avoid areas in which the cat may use the bathroom outside, such as sandy areas.
If you have ever heard that it is dangerous for a pregnant woman to be near cat feces, Toxoplasmosis is the culprit for this popular advice. It is estimated that 30 to 40% of all adults have been infected with this virus at some point during their lives. While infection is generally mild and may include swollen glands, muscle aches, and flu-like symptoms, this virus can cause serious complications and birth defects in pregnant women – who should avoid cat waste throughout their entire pregnancy. Undercooked meat is also a common cause of this virus. To prevent infection, wash hands thoroughly after handing cat feces and cook all meat thoroughly.
Despite popular belief, ringworm is not an actual worm, but rather a fungal infection. Infection generally causes a round or ring-like patch of rough and scaly skin with surrounding hair loss in both humans and felines. Keeping your cat up to date on vaccines is the best preventative measure, as cats may often carry the infection without showing any symptoms.
Proper sanitation after handling an ill pet or cat feces is the best preventative measure concerning most Zoonotic Diseases and viruses. Keeping your cat up to date on all vaccines and necessary treatments as well as regular veterinarian check-ups is also very important for the sake of your pet’s health – and your own.