Pet Health: Protect against zoonoses

How humans can catch roundworm from their pets
How humans can catch roundworm from their pets

Vet Darren Storey brings you the latest news from Northlands Veterinary Hospital.

Infectious diseases are all around us and we can acquire them from anywhere.

One source is from the animals that live with us.

What is a zoonosis?

The Greeks summed it very nicely with two simple words: “zoon nosos “ (animal ailment).

Zoonoses are diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man.

A zoonotic agent may be a bacterium, virus, fungus, parasite or other communicable agent; and there is a wide variation on their severity.

Not only that but it can work both ways; you can, in certain circumstances, give your pet a disease.

Here are some examples, but the full list can be found here

Salmonella and E.coli

Ring worm



Who can get them?

The risk of transmitting disease from companion animals to humans is related to certain factors, including young animals, dense animal population and poor hygiene, insufficient prophylactic measures, free-roaming animals eating cadavers, contact with stray animals and increased travel activity.

Small children, pregnant women and immunodeficient persons form the group at risk, but also veterinarians, nurses and other staff working with animals with infections are exposed.

An example:

Here I will show you an example of a zoonotic disease you could easily contract from your pet dog.

It is called Toxocara canis (Roundworm) and can be caught from infected dog faeces or the ground where that faeces has been.

How can we minimize the risk of contracting a zoonotic disease?

Good hygiene; for both you and your pets.

Removal of faeces in outdoor areas, and regular cleaning of litter boxes.

Antiparasitic treatment of the animals, eg worming tablets

Not letting children play in contaminated areas

Cover sand boxes when not being used

Avoid scratches and bites; but if these occur wash them thoroughly

Not bringing animals into areas with increased risk of infection unless proper prophylactic measures have been taken.

There is so much to talk about on this topic but I hope I have given you a small glimpse of some things to help you and your pets.

Whether you are a client of Northlands or not we will happily give you more advice if you need it.

Please call 01536 485543 and ask to speak to a clinical member of staff.