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Healthy Pets

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Diseases You Can Get From Your Pets: Worms, Rabies, and More

Zoonotic Illnesses You Can Get from Your Pet continued...

Reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis:

  • Avoid direct contact with kitty litter or areas that may be contaminated by cat feces.
  • Wash hands after contact with litter.
  • If you are pregnant or have a weak immune system, have another family member clean and change kitty litter daily while wearing gloves. Also, keep your cat indoors to reduce its risk of infection.
  • Don't feed your cat raw or undercooked meat, and avoid it yourself.

Cat scratch disease (bartonellosis)

This bacterial disease is spread from cat to cat by fleas, but people usually become infected from a cat scratch or bite. If you develop cat scratch disease, you may develop a mild infection and flu-like symptoms or more serious problems such as damage to the valves in the heart.

Reduce the risk of cat scratch disease:

  • Do what you can to control fleas on your pets and in your home.
  • Avoid play that might lead to cat scratches or bites.
  • Don't allow your cat to lick any open wounds you have.
  • Wash cat bites and scratches right away with soap and water.
  • See your doctor if you develop an infection at the site of a cat bite or scratch.

Hookworm and roundworm

These are intestinal parasites routinely found in dogs and cats, particularly kittens and puppies. The worms’ eggs or larvae are passed from pets through stool. You can pick them up through your skin from walking barefoot or playing outside. A young child might also accidentally eat the worm eggs.

Hookworm infection can cause painful and itchy skin infections or abdominal symptoms. Roundworm infections may cause no symptoms but can cause nerve or eye damage in some people.

Reduce the risk of roundworms and hookworms:

  • Don't walk barefoot or garden in areas with bare hands.
  • Teach children to always wash their hands after touching a dog or cat
  • Have your kittens and puppies dewormed by the vet.


Most human tapeworm infections arise from ingestion of contaminated meats. However, children can pick up tapeworm parasites from cats and dogs by accidentally swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Tapeworm segments may show up in stool or around the anal area on a pet or human. These segments look a little like grains of rice.

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