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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 tapeworms:

  • Control fleas on your pet and in the environment.
  • Seek treatment for your pet right away if you see signs of tapeworms.
  • Clean up your pet's feces in the yard and public areas right away.
  • Don't allow your child to play in areas that might be contaminated.
  • Have your child wash hands after playing with pets and being outdoors.


Not really a worm, ringworm is caused by a fungal infection within the top layer of the skin. It is very contagious and dogs, cats, horses, other animals, and humans can pass ringworm to humans. You can also get it from touching surfaces that an infected pet or person has touched. On skin, ringworm causes a ring-shaped, reddish rash that may be dry and scaly or wet and crusty. It may also be itchy.

  • On the scalp, it can cause temporary baldness.
  • On nails, it can cause thickening, discoloring, and brittle texture.
  • On feet, (called athlete's foot), it can cause scaliness and cracking, especially between the toes.

Ringworm is more likely if you have been sweating a lot or had a minor injury. Although it's difficult to prevent, ringworm responds well to self-care and treatment.

Reduce the risk of ringworm. If a pet or family member has ringworm:

  • Make sure he or she gets treated. For family members, apply an over-the-counter antifungal.
  • Consult your doctor if the lesions are extensive or do not improve rapidly with topical treatment.
  • Consult your veterinarian if skin lesions are found on your pets.
  • Daily wash sheets and pajamas of the infected family member.
  • Avoid direct contact until the ringworm is gone. And, keep animals off your bed.
  • Keep your skin clean and dry.


Caused by bacteria, salmonella infection most often results from eating contaminated food. But pets can spread it, too, through their feces. Reptiles such as lizards, snakes, and turtles are likely sources of this infection, as well as chicks and ducklings. Dogs, cats, birds, and horses may also carry it. If you become infected, signs and symptoms may include stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever.

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