What are Zoonotic Diseases and How do You Protect Yourself (or Your Pets) From an Outbreak?

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Zoonotic diseases refer to an umbrella of infectious diseases transmitted to people from pets and vice versa. Microbes that are easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact typically cause these diseases. Statistics show that zoonotic diseases are the most common causes of preventable diseases in animals. To protect yourself and your pets from infectious diseases, consider these tips:

Always Wash Your Hands

Something as simple as washing your hand each time you touch an animal will effectively cut your risk of contracting infectious diseases significantly. Wash your hands before eating, after removing soiled clothing, after using the toilet, and after contact with soil for good measure.

You want to wash your hands using an antibacterial soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to remove bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. If you have pets at home, have the kids do the same. Let them sing the alphabet song while washing their hands for clean hands. Remember, using hand sanitizers is not enough to rid your hands of germs!

Better Pet Hygiene

If you have cats at home then you should clean your pets’ litter box every day! Scoop the litter box every 24 hours so germs won’t spread in the home. Microbes like Toxoplasma gondii in cat feces do not become infectious until after 24 hours. The same can be said for parasites found in dog poop. If you have dogs at home, clean the yard daily to reduce the risk of infection.

Avoid Contact with Wild Life

There is a reason why one must keep his distance from wild animals. Apart from the danger of being attacked, wild animals could be infected with dangerous microbes. Even cute bunnies or birds can carry diseases that could harm you or your kids. The fact is, wild animals are wild regardless if they are beautiful or cute. By keeping your distance away, you protect yourself and the animal from harm.

Regular Vet Visits

A great way to ensure your pets are healthy and disease-free is keeping their regular vet visits. A routine checkup could detect the presence of certain microbes. These diseases could include parasitic worms and fungi. Get your pets tested for specific types of parasites too.  For instance, if you have a dog, have your pet vaccinated for hookworms, heartworms and roundworms.

Cover Sand Boxes

If you have a sandbox in the yard, do not expose it to the elements unprotected. Feral cats could come at night and defecate in the sand. Studies show that an average sandbox is teeming with harmful parasites including hookworms and roundworms. Always keep your sandbox covered to reduce the risk of infection.

Never Feed Pets Raw Meat

Never feed your pet raw or uncooked meat. The meat could be infected with parasitic larvae! These dangerous microbes could inhabit the muscles of the animal, resulting in an outbreak of infectious disease. Worse, the infection could prove fatal to the animal.

Anti-Tick and Flea Shampoos

Fleas and ticks carry diseases that are transmittable to human beings. Because cats and dogs are lower to the ground, it is very easy for these critters to jump, hide, and get comfortable in the animals’ fur. Keep your pets healthy and tick/flea free by using medicated shampoos and collars.