Family members derive so many benefits from having a pet. Love, comfort, exercise and happiness are some of the positive things pets can evoke in our lives. Because of that, it’s not unusual to find people kissing their pets, sharing food from the same fork or sleeping together.
It’s important to remember that pets can carry bacteria that can make you sick. Puppies are born with ringworm which can infect us. New puppies should immediately be dewormed to prevent the spread. Every year, about 10,000 human cases of ringworm are reported and of those, about 700 cases spread to the eyes which can lead to blindness.
Pregnant women should avoid cleaning the litter box of a cat because of risk of toxoplasmosis.
Hedgehogs, hamsters, turtles and reptiles can carry salmonella bacteria. Small turtles have salmonella living on their shells. The sale of them was banned back in the 70’s because young children had a tendency to pick them up and either kiss them or put their hands in their mouths causing them to ingest the salmonella bacteria.
Every year 70,000 people are infected with salmonella in the U.S. While many salmonella infections are from food products, many are the result of sharing germs with our pets. Si while pets are wonderful additions to the family it’s important to set hygiene rules for everyone.
Here are some ways to reduce your family's risk:
- Wash hands with soap and water after interaction with a pet, their droppings or their food.
- Wear gloves when cleaning a pet’s litter box or cage.
- Cages and litter boxes need to be cleaned regularly.
- Pet’s should not eat off your dishes or utensils.
- Keep pets from licking your face and if they lick your hands, wash them.
- Cats love sandboxes…..keep them covered.
- Pets should see their veterinarian at least annually and receive their immunizations.