Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.
Tuberculosis: Important Points of Discussion
This is what we'll be covering in this article:
- The differences between human and fish tuberculosis
- Where fish TB comes from and how it infects a tank
- How fish TB crosses the species barrier
- Species affected by the disease
- Symptoms in humans and fish
- Treatment and prevention
The Difference Between Tuberculosis in Fish and Humans
Human TB is a serious condition. At the moment, its treatment remains long and difficult. The disease scars lung tissue and can lead to death. Interrupted treatment can result in immunity against medication and, unfortunately, there's also a strain of TB that's naturally resistant to drugs.
The highly infectious tuberculosis that remains an epidemic in many countries is not the same thing that affects fish. That's the good news; it's not actually tuberculosis. Both diseases are caused by closely-related bacteria. Human TB results from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fish TB from Mycobacterium marinum. The bad news is that it's indeed zoonotic (a disease that can jump from animals to people). Fish TB ravages an aquarium and causes persistent skin infections in humans. When it blooms in a person, it's also called “Aquarium Granuloma” or “Fish Tank Granuloma.”
Where Does Fish TB Come From?
You have a great collection of fish. This healthy shoal has always enjoyed a clean tank and good food. Suddenly, the fish sicken, and a paper cut on one of your fingers develops an agonizing infection. Out of the blue, your aquarium has tuberculosis. How did that happen? Unfortunately, fish TB can sneak past the unwary owner. Here's how:
- Adding new, infected fish (symptoms can be delayed and make a fish appear healthy)
- The new fish is healthy, but the bacterium arrives in the bag of water it's sold in
- Contaminated commercial food
- Using another keeper's contaminated equipment
M. marinum can live in a tank and not cause wholesale destruction. It's most likely to happen when the bacterium enters a wound, the fish are genetically weak, the fish already suffer from stress or other bacterial infections or the fish live in substandard conditions.
The Symptoms of Fish Tuberculosis
It's important to understand that fish TB must be correctly diagnosed. There are other conditions and diseases with similar or identical symptoms. Misdiagnosis leads to the wrong treatment and possibly losing the fish to factors other than M. marinum. Classic symptoms of fish TB are listed below.
- A tendency to thin has earned fish TB the nickname of the “Wasting Disease” and is often the only symptom that shows
- White growths or lesions on the body
- The loss of scales
- Discolouration of scales
- Deformities, especially along the spine
- Ulcers on the flanks or head
- Bulging eyes, one or both
- Abnormal behaviour
Humans normally catch M. marinum while cleaning a tank if there's some kind of wound on the hand. The bacterium enters the skin and causes purple lesions. There's never been a case of human-to-human transmission of fish TB, which is treatable with antibiotics.
How to Treat Fish TB
M. marinum has one thing in common with human TB; it's long and difficult to treat. Unfortunately, most antibacterial products bought over the counter won't be enough. Once the disease is positively identified, sometimes with the help of a veterinarian, the owner needs to prepare for months of changes, medication and sober expectations. For this reason, many choose to make a clean break and start fresh, with new stock and an aquarium. But for those who don't wish to discard equipment nor euthanize fish, there are options.
1. The Hospital Tank
Any serious fish hobbyist must eventually own a separate “hospital tank” to quarantine symptomatic fish. To prevent cross-contamination, maintenance is done with equipment never shared with the main aquarium. The TB fish must feel as stress-free as possible since stress can push it past the point of saving. If it loves vegetation or hiding places, make sure there are plenty of them. Ensure water conditions and temperature suit the species and then place the fish inside for observation, treatment or both. A written log can track the progress of the patient.
2. The Main Tank
After removing sick fish from the main tank, decide on whether to cleanse the main tank or not. If the other fish are clearly healthy, the only step some owners prefer is to keep them under observation. However, most people prefer to not take any chances. Substrate and plants are replaced, the tank and equipment are sterilized and the fish can also be given a supplement or treatment to keep them in peak condition.
3. The Right Medication
There's no way around this one. If you skip the correct antibiotics and use cheap pet store products or home remedies, the survival rate shrinks like its being paid. Three of the best antibiotic therapies available for fish TB are Neomycin, Kanamycin and Isoniazid. However, you need professional medical advice on how to administer them and in what combination.
4. Realistic Expectations
M. marinum is difficult to treat, period. Under the best of conditions, survival expectations are below fifty percent. Stress, poor immunity and incorrect tank conditions can make treatment useless. If you have a hospital tank with optimal conditions, good food and the right antibiotic program, then do what you can. In addition, don't expect treatment to last a few days or weeks. Fighting fish TB can take three or four months of steadfast adherence to your regime.
How to Prevent Fish TB
Three things can prevent a lot of heartache and expenses:
- Correct conditions: A healthy fish goes a long way to fight off this zoonotic bother, so make sure the environment is perfect: temperature, oxygen, PH levels, cleanliness and no overcrowding.
- A balanced diet: Feed it the best food you can afford—and no, a flakes-only diet is not healthy.
- Careful observation: A sharp eye is needed to pick up on symptoms as early as possible in order to remove a fish to the hospital tank the moment it looks off. You also need that eye when looking to purchase disease-free fish (try to avoid pet stores). When bringing home a new pet, place it in a separate quarantine tank for a few weeks just to make sure.
A human infection can take months to cure, so prevention for yourself is just as important. Always wear gloves during tank maintenance.
TB Facts: Did You Know?
- Cows also carry a strain of tuberculosis that can infect humans.
- Nearly all aquarium fish can develop fish TB, but for some reason guppies, Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas) and Gouramis are more susceptible.
- Confirmed cases of humans infected with fish TB are incredibly scarce—most owners can keep fish for a lifetime and never get it.
Questions & Answers
Question: I just was given about fifteen Mbuna Cichlids. I noticed they all had slightly sunken bellies, but act normal. I treated them with a general cure by API, and in the middle of treatment, they still look the same. I was going to treat their food with metroplex by Seachem, but if it's fish TB, I don't know what to do, or if it's worth it. I'm not even sure how to clean the aquarium filters or if I should treat the whole aquarium and get rid of the fish. What should I do?
Answer: I would first contact the previous owner. Find out more about the water conditions, previous illnesses, food type and food amount your pets had at their old home. See if you're doing something that might be too much of a change - sometimes, the problem is as simple as feeding them a little bit more (if the previous owner fed them more).
It's a good sign that they're active and behaving normally. However, do not add more fish until this problem goes either way. Unfortunately, that's the reality. It's very hard to know if this is TB. The sunken belly could be a positive TB symptom. However, it's also a symptom of being underfed, suffering from an internal parasite or skinny disease, which usually comes with lethargy.
Additionally, if you have other tanks, do not share any equipment with this tank just in case it's something infectious. As long as you work with the 15 cichlids, wear gloves when you need to touch the water. Fish TB can infect a human. You won't get seriously ill, but the condition is painful and requires medical intervention.
If this is fish TB, the condition will worsen, and then there will be no doubt. You'll notice lesions, scales falling off, fish getting thinner and even crooked spines in some cases. If you suspect an internal parasite, choose a good product to treat them with.
For now, just monitor your fish. As long as they remain active and healthy, there is still a chance that they might survive. However, as soon as you realize that this is fish TB, you'll have to decide to euthanize. If you decide to end things, contact a vet for advice on how to do this humanely (flushing them down the toilet is not a quick death). Unfortunately, it's safer to throw away filters that came into contact with fish TB. You don't want to risk your next batch of pets. The entire tank also needs to be sterilized with a strong bleach-water solution.
Question: Is fish TB contagious to other fish?
Answer: Fish tuberculosis is not exclusive to a single species of fish. It is more common in some, but more likely because those species are more often kept than others. This disease can also jump to humans. That is why it is very important to always clean the aquarium using gloves, especially when you have open wounds or just a scratch. All it takes for fish TB to jump to a person is a small skin opening. Fish TB also infects everything else in a tank, including the ornaments, equipment, and gravel.
Question: My local fish person (not a big store franchise) looked at pictures of my Betta, and the first thing he said was, "Fish TB." The fish seems in good shape, except for clear globules on his top fin. Can I upload a picture of your opinion? He also told me I could remove part of the afflicted fin and this should give him some time.
Answer: It's always best to confirm symptoms with a vet. This is the only way you'll know for sure whether this is TB, or something else entirely. Also, only consider removing fin parts when a vet recommends such a procedure and then let a professional handle it. Fish are slippery and programmed to thrash when scared. This could cause severe injury should one try to remove something, and the fish makes an unexpected move.
Question: Should aquarium plants be tossed out after an outbreak of TB in my tank?
Answer: Unfortunately, yes. TB remains highly infections and clings to everything in a tank. Traces of it will stick to plants, ornaments, and equipment. It's best to just replace everything. This way you'll know that another TB infection is unlikely. The aquarium itself is often too expensive to replace so just clean it properly.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit
[email protected] on November 29, 2018:
Thanks this was helpful
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on August 12, 2018:
Thank you, Savanna!
Savanna H on August 08, 2018:
This is very informative! Thank you.
Infections That Pets Carry
Caring for pets is a great learning experience for kids, teaching them responsibility, gentleness, and respect for other living beings. Like adults, kids can benefit from the companionship, affection, and relationships they share with their pets.
But animals and pets can spread infections to humans, especially kids. So if you're thinking about buying a pet, or already have one, it's important to know how to protect your family from infections.
How Pets Spread Infections
Like people, all animals carry germs. Illnesses common among housepets — such as distemper, canine parvovirus, and heartworms — can't spread to humans.
But pets also carry certain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that can cause illness if transmitted to humans. Humans get these animal-borne diseases when they're bitten or scratched or have contact with an animal's waste, saliva, or dander.
These diseases can affect humans in many ways. They're of greatest concern to young children, infants, pregnant women, and people whose immune systems have been compromised by illness or disease. Infants and kids younger than 5 years old are at risk because their immune systems are still developing, and some infections that might make an adult just mildly sick can be more serious for them.
Healthy Family, Healthy Pets
But you don't have to give up your family's furry friends either. Pets can enrich your family life, and taking a few precautions can protect your kids from getting sick.
Protecting your family from pet-related infections begins before bringing a pet home. For instance, reptiles and amphibians should not be allowed as pets in any household with infants and young children.
Also consider the health and age of your kids before getting a pet. A pet that would require frequent handling is not recommended for any immunocompromised child (such as a child who has HIV, has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, or uses prednisone frequently). Kids with eczema should probably avoid aquariums.
Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats are popular pets but can carry infections such as:
- Campylobacter infection: can be spread by household pets carrying Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, which cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever in people. The bacteria may be in the intestinal tract of infected dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, and certain farm animals. A person can become infected through contact with contaminated water, feces, undercooked meat, or unpasteurized milk.
More than 2 million cases of campylobacter infection happen each year in the United States, and C. jejuni is now the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis. These infections are contagious, especially among members of the same family and kids in childcare or preschools. Infection is treated with antibiotics.
Pet birds, even if they are kept in a cage, may transmit these diseases:
- Cryptococcosis: a fungal disease contracted when someone inhales organisms found in bird droppings, especially from pigeons, that can cause pneumonia. People with weakened immune systems from illnesses such as HIV or cancer are at increased risk of contracting this disease and developing serious complications, such as meningitis.
- Psittacosis: also known as parrot fever, a bacterial illness that can happen from contact with infected bird feces or with the dust that builds up in birdcages. Symptoms include coughing, high fever, and headache. It is treated with antibiotics.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles (including lizards, snakes, and turtles) and amphibians (including frogs, toads, and salamanders) put kids at risk for:
- Salmonellosis: Reptiles and amphibians shed Salmonella in their feces. Touching the reptile's skin, cage, and other contaminated surfaces can lead to infection. Salmonellosis causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Young children are at risk for more serious illness, including dehydration, meningitis, and sepsis (blood infection).
Handling and caring for rodents — including hamsters and gerbils — as well as fish can place kids at risk for:
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV): People can get LCMV by inhaling particles that come from urine, feces, or saliva from infected rodents, such as mice and hamsters. LCMV infection can cause flu-like symptoms — fever, tiredness, headaches, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting — and may even lead to meningitis (an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). As with most viruses, there is no specific treatment, but some patients might need to be hospitalized. Like toxoplasmosis, LCM may be passed from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus.
- Mycobacterium marinum: This infection may happen in people exposed to contaminated water in aquariums or pools. Although mycobacterium marinum infections are generally mild and limited to the skin, they can be more severe in people with HIV or weakened immune systems.
Precautions When Adopting or Buying a Pet
If you're adopting or buying a pet, make sure the breeder, shelter, or store has a good reputation and vaccinates all of its animals. A reputable breeder should belong to a national or local breeding club, such as the American Kennel Club. Contact the Humane Society of the United States or your veterinarian for information about animal shelters in your area.
As soon as you choose a family pet, take it to a local veterinarian for vaccinations and a physical exam. Don't forget to routinely vaccinate your pet on a schedule recommended by your vet — this will keep your pet healthy and reduce the risk that infections will spread to your kids.
You'll also want to regularly feed your pet nutritious animal food (ask your vet for suggestions) and provide plenty of fresh water. Avoid feeding your pet raw meat because this can be a source of infection, and do not allow your pet to drink toilet water because infections can be spread through saliva, urine, and feces.
Limit young kids' contact with outdoor pets that hunt and kill for food because a pet that ingests infected meat may get an infection that can be passed to people.
Safely Caring for Your Pet
Here are some tips to help your family safely care for pets:
- Always wash your hands, especially after touching your pet, handling your pet's food, or cleaning your pet's cage, tank, or litter box. Wear gloves when cleaning up after an animal's waste, and if you have a bird, wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth when cleaning the cage to prevent inhaling urine or fecal particles. Don't have kids clean cages or litter boxes unless there is supervision or until they know how to do this safely and responsibly (and again, hands should be washed afterward).
- Avoid kissing or touching your pet with your mouth because infections can spread through saliva. Also, don't share food with your pet.
- Keep your pet's living area clean and free of waste. If your pet eliminates waste outdoors, pick up waste regularly and don't allow kids to play in that area.
- Don't allow pets in areas where food is prepared or handled, and don't bathe your pet or clean aquariums in the kitchen sink or bathtub. Wash your pet outdoors or talk to your veterinarian about professional pet grooming.
- Avoid strange animals or those that appear sick. Never adopt a wild animal as a pet.
Watch kids carefully around pets. Small children are more likely to catch infections from pets because they crawl around on the floor with the animals, kiss them or share food with them, or put their fingers in the pets' mouths and then put their dirty fingers in their own mouths. Also, if kids visit a petting zoo, farm, or a friend's house where there are animals, make sure they know the importance of hand washing.
For your pet's comfort and for your family's safety, control flea and tick problems in your pet. Fleas and ticks can carry diseases that may be easily passed to kids. Oral and topical medicines are available for flea and tick control avoid using flea collars because kids can handle them and become sick from the chemicals they contain. Check your pet regularly for fleas and ticks, as well as bites and scratches that may make them more open to infection. Keep your pet leashed when outdoors and keep it away from animals that look sick or may be unvaccinated.
And, finally, spay or neuter your pet. Spaying and neutering may reduce your pet's contact with other animals that may be infected, especially if your pet goes outdoors.
Zoonotic illnesses are diseases humans can get from animals. Many infectious diseases can spread from animals to people, and some of these can come from your pet. But before you become too alarmed, know that getting diseases from a pet is pretty uncommon, and that you can prevent most of them with some very simple steps. For example, teach children not to kiss pets or put their hands in their mouths after touching them. Frequent hand washing and regular vet checks are two other great ways to help prevent a wide range of diseases from pets. This includes diseases from dogs, diseases from cats, diseases from birds, or diseases from reptiles.
These are a few of the more common diseases you might get from your pet. People with weak immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, may be more vulnerable than healthy individuals and should take special care.
Caused by a virus and spread through bites, rabies is a disease that affects the nervous system and is generally fatal. Early signs may be fever or headache. This can quickly develop into symptoms of confusion, sleepiness, or agitation. Although rabies can be spread from pets such as a dog or cat, you are more likely to get it from a wild animal.
Reduce the risk of rabies:
- Keep your pet's vaccinations up to date.
- Do what you can to prevent your pet having contact with wild animals.
- Have animal control remove any stray animals. Don't try to care for them yourself.
- Tell your doctor right away if an animal bites you.
Caused by a protozoan organism, toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms in some people. If you're pregnant or getting ready to become pregnant, it is particularly important to be aware of this disease, as it can infect a fetus and cause a miscarriage or serious birth defect. You are most likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating partially cooked meat or from contact with animal feces while gardening. But you can also get it from contact with contaminated cat feces. It is important to change a cat's litter box daily if it is cleaned within a 24-hour period, it is likely not infective.
Reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis:
- Avoid direct contact with kitty litter or areas that may be contaminated by cat feces.
- Wash hands after contact with litter.
- If you are pregnant or have a weak immune system, have another family member clean and change kitty litter daily while wearing gloves. Also, keep your cat indoors to reduce its risk of infection.
- Don't feed your cat raw or undercooked meat, and avoid it yourself.
Cat scratch disease (bartonellosis)
This bacterial disease is spread from cat to cat by fleas, but people usually become infected from a cat scratch or bite. If you develop cat scratch disease, you may develop a mild infection and flu-like symptoms or more serious problems such as damage to the valves in the heart.
Reduce the risk of cat scratch disease:
- Do what you can to control fleas on your pets and in your home.
- Avoid play that might lead to cat scratches or bites.
- Don't allow your cat to lick any open wounds you have.
- Wash cat bites and scratches right away with soap and water.
- See your doctor if you develop an infection at the site of a cat bite or scratch.
Hookworm and roundworm
These are intestinal parasites routinely found in dogs and cats, particularly kittens and puppies. The worms’ eggs or larvae are passed from pets through stool. You can pick them up through your skin from walking barefoot or playing outside. A young child might also accidentally eat the worm eggs.
Hookworm infection can cause painful and itchy skin infections or abdominal symptoms. Roundworm infections may cause no symptoms but can cause nerve or eye damage in some people.
Reduce the risk of roundworms and hookworms:
- Don't walk barefoot or garden in areas with bare hands.
- Teach children to always wash their hands after touching a dog or cat
- Have your kittens and puppies dewormed by the vet.
Dogs and cats can pick up tapeworm by eating a flea that has been infected. Most human tapeworm infections arise from ingestion of contaminated meats, but children may pick up tapeworm by accidentally swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Tapeworm segments may show up in stool or around the anal area on a pet or human. These segments look a little like grains of rice.
- Control fleas on your pet and in the environment.
- Seek treatment for your pet right away if you see signs of tapeworms.
- Clean up your pet's feces in the yard and public areas right away.
- Don't allow your child to play in areas that might be contaminated.
- Have your child wash hands after playing with pets and being outdoors.
Not really a worm, ringworm is caused by a fungal infection within the top layer of the skin. It is very contagious and dogs, cats, horses, other animals, and humans can pass ringworm to humans. You can also get it from touching surfaces that an infected pet or person has touched. On skin, ringworm causes a ring-shaped, reddish rash that may be dry and scaly or wet and crusty. It may also be itchy.
- On the scalp, it can cause temporary baldness.
- On nails, it can cause thickening, discoloring, and brittle texture.
- On feet, (called athlete's foot), it can cause scaliness and cracking, especially between the toes.
Ringworm is more likely if you have been sweating a lot or had a minor injury. Although it's difficult to prevent, ringworm responds well to self-care and treatment.
Reduce the risk of ringworm. If a pet or family member has ringworm:
- Make sure they get treated. For family members, apply an over-the-counter antifungal.
- Consult your doctor if the lesions are extensive or do not improve rapidly with topical treatment.
- Consult your veterinarian if skin lesions are found on your pets.
- Daily wash sheets and pajamas of the infected family member.
- Avoid direct contact until the ringworm is gone. And, keep animals off your bed.
- Keep your skin clean and dry.
Caused by bacteria, salmonella infection most often results from eating contaminated food. But pets can spread it, too, through their feces. Reptiles such as lizards, snakes, and turtles are likely sources of this infection, as well as chicks and ducklings. Dogs, cats, birds, and horses may also carry it. If you become infected, signs and symptoms may include stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever.
Reduce the risk of salmonella:
- Always wash hands with soap and water after contact with animal feces or with reptiles and the surfaces they've touched.
- If you have a weak immune system, avoid any contact with reptiles, chicks, and ducklings.
Psittacosis (Parrot Fever)
This is a bacterial infection that you can get from breathing in dried feces or respiratory tract fluids from infected birds. This includes parrots, parakeets, macaws, and cockatiels. It may be hard to detect this infection in birds because they often don't have symptoms. This makes prevention more difficult.
Reduce the risk of parrot fever:
- Avoid purchasing a bird with signs of infection. This includes eye or nasal discharge, diarrhea, or low body weight.
- Change papers daily and regularly disinfect the bird's cage, but in a well-ventilated area. Diluted bleach (for example, ½ cup of bleach in a gallon of water) should do the trick. Or, ask your vet for a safe, effective antibacterial to use.
- If you suspect your bird may be sick, see a vet right away.
Call your doctor if you develop flu-like or respiratory symptoms after having a sick bird. If you come down with psittacosis, your experience may range from no symptoms at all to severe respiratory symptoms.
Your pet can't transmit Lyme disease to you directly. But you can get it from ticks your dog or outdoor cat picks up. Ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, which may cause no obvious symptoms. Or, it may cause:
- A bull's-eyerash at the site of tick attachment
- Muscle or joint pain
Without treatment, Lyme disease can become a chronic condition over time, causing nerve and heart inflammation, mental changes, and pain.
Reduce the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses:
- Avoid tick-infested areas, especially in spring and summer.
- Use veterinary-approved tick preventives on your pet and apply insect repellant with DEET on yourself when in areas with ticks.
- Wear light clothing and cover legs and arms when hiking.
- Remove ticks as soon as you can to help reduce chances of infection.
- Dispose of ticks by wrapping them in a paper towel and placing this in a plastic bag. Never crush the tick as this can release dangerous bacteria into the air.
Pets can catch Covid from humans, new research suggests
A study suggests dogs, cats and even ferrets can catch coronavirus from humans
By James Manning Posted: Friday 18 September 2020 , 12:58 pm
Since the start of the 2020 pandemic, many of the world’s loving pet parents have been worried not only about their own health but that of their furry children. We’ve seen scattered reports of infected pets from across the world, and even a tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo was diagnosed with Covid-19. Now a new study suggests that infected humans do, in many cases, pass on the illness to their pets.
The upcoming ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease will hear from a group of Canadian scientists who tested a total of 17 cats, 18 dogs and one ferret for Covid-19. All of the pets’ owners had experienced a positive diagnosis or coronavirus symptoms in the previous two weeks. A ‘substantial proportion’ of the pets had antibodies for the virus, reports phys.org, indicating that they had been infected.
Some animals reportedly also had Covid-like symptoms at the time their owners were infected, although there have been no reports of animals suffering extreme cases of Covid. The study’s authors did not establish whether the virus can be passed from pets back to humans, but said that ‘such reverse transmission may occur’.
Despite the small sample size, the researchers were confident in recommending that pet owners isolate from their furry friends if they come down with Covid – in much the same way that sufferers should avoid contact with other humans.
So just to be on the safe side, it’s probably best to keep any animal friends away from your sickbed – even if they’re scratching at the door and whining to be let in. Remember, it’s for their own good!
Now read these amazing stories about animals taking back human spaces during lockdown.
What You Could Catch From Your Pet
There are several serious illnesses that you can catch from your pet. Some of these illnesses will make your pet sick as well, but some will not. These are known as zoonotic diseases.
Animals get Lyme disease from ticks, just like humans do. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by the bite of the tick.
You will not get Lyme disease just because your pet has it, but the same tick that infected your pet could infecte you as well.
Dog ticks may also carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is a very serious illness for humans and is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia parkeri.
If you have pets, you should check them daily for ticks and also check yourself and your children if you have been outside, especially in or near a wooded area.
Mange or Scabies
These conditions are caused by mites. Well-fed and well-kept cats rarely get mange or scabies, but it is much more common in dogs.
“Red mange” is not a concern for humans, but the mange that is also known as scabies is highly contagious to humans. The symptoms include severe itching, skin irritation, and hair loss in dogs as well as humans. It should be treated as soon as possible to prevent secondary infections.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite and has been found in virtually all warm-blooded animals. Cats make the perfect host for the parasite that causes the most serious infections.
This is really only a threat to pregnant women (because it can cause severe harm to a fetus) and people with compromised immune systems. As many as a third of adults have been infected with the disease and are immune to it. It causes no serious threat to healthy, non-pregnant humans.
Those at risk for complications due to toxoplasmosis should not change cat litter, avoid eating any undercooked or raw meat, and wash hands and cooking utensils thoroughly after handling raw meat.
Salmonella is a bacteria that usually does not make animals sick, but it can be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea. It is also commonly found on reptiles that are kept as pets.
Reptiles, even turtles, should not be kept as pets in a household with children under 5 years old because this age group is most susceptible to complications from salmonella infection and the most likely to put things in their mouths.
Pasteurella multocida is a bacterial infection that can be caused by dog and cat bites or scratches (more commonly cats). It is rare, but when it occurs, it typically causes cellulitis at the site of injury.
Caused by a virus, rabies is the most severe and serious infection that can be passed from animals to humans. This incurable and fatal viral disease has been found all over the world. However, rabies is extremely rare in the United States, with only 47 cases between 1990 and 2005. Between 2008 and 2019, there were only nine cases, all associated with exposure during international travel.
It is extremely important to have your pets vaccinated against rabies. If you or your pet is bitten by another animal, seek medical attention immediately. You should also try to find out the immunization status of the other animal, if it is someone else’s pet, or capture the animal if it is wild (and you can do so without being bitten again) so that it can be tested.
This is a fungal skin infection caused by Microsporum species. Ringworm can be spread from pets to humans and humans to pets by contact.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
This antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be harbored by cats and dogs and spread to humans, and vice versa. As with humans, a pet may be colonized by the bacteria and not have any symptoms or problems by harboring it, or it may cause an infection.
Cat Scratch Disease
This infection is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae and is spread by cat scratches (especially by kittens). In humans, cat scratch disease is usually a mild infection that produces a raised bump or a swollen lymph node, but it can affect the eyes and be more severe.
Cat scratches may also transmit a fungal infection called sporotrichosis.