Young children, pregnant women, seniors, and anyone with a weakened immune system should be especially careful when around pets, researchers said.
"Surveys suggest that the general public and people at high risk for pet-associated disease are not aware of the risks associated with high-risk pet practices or recommendations to reduce them; for example, 77 per cent of households that obtained a new pet following a cancer diagnosis acquired a high-risk pet," said Dr Jason Stull, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Ohio State University.
An article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) explains the types of infections, how infections are transmitted from pets, prevention and the role of health care providers.
"Studies suggest physicians do not regularly ask about pet contact, nor do they discuss the risks of zoonotic diseases with patients, regardless of the patient's immune status," wrote Stull, with coauthors Dr Jason Brophy, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Dr JS Weese, Ontario Veterinary College.
All pets can transmit diseases to people. Dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles and amphibians can transmit Salmonella, multidrug resistant bacteria (including Clostridium difficile), Campylobacter jejuni and other diseases.
For healthy people, the risk of pet-associated disease is low, but vulnerable people are at risk, including newborns, children with leukemia and adults with cancer.


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