The coronavirus responsible for the worldwide outbreak of covid-19 most likely passed between illegal traded wild animals and humans at a market in Wuhan, China. However, it is not jus pangolins and bats that can affect our health negatively. Our pets also can be responsible for transmitting diseases and parasites.
This article is in no way anti-pets. We are not trying to sound alarmist, and we certainly are not trying to discourage anyone from getting or keeping pets. As much as pets can, and should be, part of our families, we still need to be aware of the risks they pose.
The Health Benefits of Pets
According to Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine director, Dr Greg Fricchione, owning a pet has emotional and physiological benefits.
The unconditional love shown by dogs and cats enables us to feel more secure. That sense of attachment and security can help reduce stress. Dr Fricchione referred to a journal-published study that indicates eye contact with a pet can boost oxytocin production in the owner and in the animal.
Ticks and Lyme Disease
Dogs and cats that spend time in dense undergrowth or in woodlands or fields are at risk of picking up ticks, which they could bring home. Some ticks carry the Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease, which can lead to serious health issues in people and animals that contract it.
Check your dogs and cats regularly. If you and/or your children take your animals for walks, check yourself and the children as well when you get home. There is nothing wrong with leaving the results of real money pokies online to chance; you do not want to do the same with ticks and the threat of Lyme disease.
Salmonella and Salmonellosis
Snakes, lizards, and other reptiles make interesting pets, even if they are not as affectionate as most dogs and cats. Even so, owners should be aware that some reptiles carry the Salmonella bacteria.
The bacteria can be spread through contact, and it can cause salmonellosis, a disease characterised by cramps in the abdomen, and by fever and diarrhoea.
Chlamydia Psittaci and Parrot Fever
Some birds such as parrots, cockatiels, ducks, macaws, parakeets, and turkeys carry the Chlamydia psittaci bacterium, which can cause an infection known as parrot fever. Humans can contract the bacterium easily – it takes little more than inhaling bacteria spread through bird excretions such as urine and faeces.
Chest pains, diarrhoea, fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting, and shortness or breath are among the symptoms. Serious infections could lead to the brain, liver and other organs becoming inflamed, and they could result in pneumonia.
Approximately 40% of cats will carry the Bartonella henselae bacterium at some time in their lives, and most of those felines are kittens younger than 12 months. Humans can be infected by the bacteria when scratched by a cat that carries it.
Initially, the wound becomes tender, painful, and swollen. Later, you may experience appetite loss, fatigue, and fever. If left untreated, the disease can have a negative effect on the heart, brain, and other organs.