30 Diseases Humans Can Get From Pets

7. Monkeypox This disease bears many similarities to smallpox which was declared eradicated more than 30 years ago. Initially discovered in monkeys, the disease derived its… Simi - December 11, 2018
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7. Monkeypox

This disease bears many similarities to smallpox which was declared eradicated more than 30 years ago. Initially discovered in monkeys, the disease derived its name from there. However, there have been reported cases of monkeypox outbreaks in humans. In 2003, an outbreak in the United States brought the disease to the attention of millions of people. The commonality among all the pet owners who got sick was their ownership of prairie dogs. As it turns out, the prairie dogs had been kept close to some pouched rats imported from West Africa.

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The infected prairie dogs transmitted the monkeypox by biting their human owners. The infected people suffered from chills, fevers, and muscle aches. They developed a rash that looked much like smallpox. No treatment specific to monkeypox is available. Smallpox vaccines and antiviral drugs are used to treat the condition. The appearance of the distinctive rash should set off alarm bells.

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6. Campylobacter jejuni

This bacterial disease is caused by the Campylobacter jejuni bacterium which is found in the intestines of many animals. It is possible for the bacteria to be transmitted during the handling of any animal fecal matter. Cat and dog feces can contain the bacteria.

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Infection by the bacteria leads to the symptoms of food poisoning. Diarrhea, cramping, nausea, and vomiting are symptoms of Campylobacter jejuni. Treatment of the symptoms will put a stop to it. For some patients, antibiotics might be needed. The elderly, the very young, and the immune-suppressed are more likely to need medical intervention. Cleaning up areas where animal fecal matter is present should be done on a regular basis. Thereafter, the pet owner should dispose of the waste and wash their hands with disinfectant soap. Pet store workers should be extra careful as there is a raised likelihood of contact with the bacteria.

Brucella canis. Image via Shutterstock

5. Brucella canis

This bacterium infects dogs and affects their reproductive systems. It is associated with infertility in both sexes. In females, the bacterial infection can result in endometriosis and spontaneous abortions. The bacteria are spread to humans via the vaginal secretions and urine of an infected dog. Once the bacteria enter the human body, the resulting infection will include symptoms such as fever and weight loss.

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There is also a possibility of swelling of the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. Antibiotic treatment is necessary to get rid of the infection for both the dogs and their owners. After handling a pet dog, especially a female who has had stillborn puppies, the owner should wash their hands thoroughly. Infections in humans are relatively rare, but simple precautions should still be taken. Dog breeders and their employees should be extra vigilant as should those who work at kennels and dog boarding facilities.

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4. Helicobacter pylori

The Helicobacter pylori s a spiral bacterium that can cause both animals and humans alike to suffer from stomach ulcers. The bacteria that cause this condition house themselves in an area of the digestive system known as the duodenum. The feces of an infected animal carry the bacteria. Accidental or inadvertent contact with the feces of an infected animal poses a potential threat to people. Upon contact with the hands, the bacteria can enter the body. Pet owners should pay special attention to washing their hands after cleaning up pet feces.

Symptoms of infection of Helicobacter pylori. Image via Shutterstock

The animals most likely to be infected by this bacterium are cats, dogs, and ferrets. Both the pets and their owners will experience episodes of intermittent vomiting. Humans also show symptoms such as nausea, weight loss, and a diminished appetite. Pets and owners will need antibiotic treatment to get rid of the infection. Owners can also make use of antacids to ease the pain caused by their stomach ulcers.

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3. Giardia

This is a parasitic illness. The parasite lives in contaminated water. Upon drinking the water, the host is unwittingly infected by the parasite. Pets like dogs are susceptible to parasitic diseases like giardia as they drink water from stagnant puddles. Untreated, unfiltered water is far more likely to contain parasites. Dogs who have giardia will show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and live worms in their feces. Humans will also exhibit bloody stools, stomach aches, and coughing. Antiparasitic treatment is required for pets and their owners who get the parasite.

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Pet owners should avoid drinking unclean water and should carry treated water with them when they take their dogs out. Dogs should be encouraged to drink water from their owners rather than from bodies of contaminated water. Immediate treatment for an infected dog will kill the parasite before it can be passed onto the owner.

MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. Image via Shutterstock


Methicillin-resistant staph aureus is an infection that poses more of the threat to humans than it does to animals. Many animals can carry MRSA such as pigs, chinchillas, horses, and parrots. Dogs can also contract the infection. There are various strains of MRSA which pose different levels of threat to human life. Animals who have recurrent ear infections or wounds that won’t heal are likely candidates for MRSA infection. Owners should be on the lookout for fever, wound discharge, skin swelling, and skin lesions.

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Contact with infected areas on their pets can cause owners to get MRSA. In humans, MRSA presents as a series of small reddish bumps on the skin. Left untreated, deep skin abscesses may form. As the name implies, MRSA is treatment resistant, and a combination of antibiotics is needed to eradicate it. Scrupulous hygiene practices when it comes to caring for pets with infections and wounds can prevent MRSA transmission.

Sarcoptic mange. Image via Shutterstock

1. Sarcoptic mange

Mange is the result of an infestation of mites in the skin of an animal. The result is itchy, sensitive, and irritated skin. The fur might fall out of the affected area leaving behind bald patches. Sores and scabs form on the skin. Animals with mange will scratch their skin persistently, to the point where bleeding occurs. The skin is sensitive and painful.

Sarcoptic Mange in dog. Image via Shutterstock

The presence of the mites is a constant irritation to the animal. Antiparasitic medications, ointments, and shampoos are used to get rid of mange. Caged animals should have their cages treated with powder to kill the mites. When the mites are passed onto a human, the result is scabies. This is a condition characterized by a rash of small sores that are itchy and painful. Topical ointments are the recommended treatment. Regular inspection of pets’ fur for mites allows owners to deal with an infestation in the early stages.