When you spend time around an animal—whether it's a pet, a farm animal, or a wild animal—there's a chance you can pick up an infection.
An infection you get from an animal is called a zoonosis (say "zoh-uh-NOH-sus"). Some infections can seem mild, but others can be quite serious. So it's a good idea to learn about your risks and how to protect yourself and other people. People who are most in need of protection are children under age 5, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.
If you've just moved to a new town or if you've recently adopted a pet, one of the first things you'll want to do is to find a veterinarian you can trust to care for your animal's health. But how is the best way to do that?
Paw Nation asks Louise Murray, D.V.M., Vice President of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of "Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet's Health,"...
Touch something that an animal has touched, such as bedding, a kennel, a stall, or your own clothing.
Touch feces or urine from an animal.
Are licked, scratched, or bitten by an animal.
Breath in dust that carries disease from an animal, as in a barnyard or a mouse nest.
Handle animal meat. Kitchen and food prep areas can be contaminated by raw meat, such as chicken, beef, or game.
Drink water from canals, creeks, or lakes. They might be contaminated with animal waste.
Eat food from infected animals, such as raw milk, cheese, or meat, or eat produce grown in contaminated water.
Before you travel, learn about common animal-borne infection risks where you're going. Then learn how to protect yourself from them.
How can you prevent infections from animals?
Keep your pet healthy
Keep up with your pet's vaccinations.
De-worm pets, especially puppies and kittens. They're a common source of worms. Talk to your veterinarian about what to use and how often.
House train or litter box train your pet. Clean up pet waste often.
Control and remove fleas and ticks. They can carry disease.
Visit your vet when your pet is ill or is acting differently than usual.
Wash and clean
Wash or change your pet's bedding regularly.
Wash your hands thoroughly after you handle any animal, including the fur or meat of dead animals. If you have no soap and water, use a gel hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand wipe containing 60% to 90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol.
Change and wash your clothes as soon as you come back home from handling animals at a petting zoo or farm.
Clean up carefully after an animal has vomited or had diarrhea. Wash or replace bedding. Use disinfectant to clean all hard surfaces that have been soiled.
In general, wash your hands before you eat and after you prepare food.
If there's a chance that a cat or mice walk on kitchen counters, clean counters often with a disinfectant.
Carefully clean up all rodent droppings you find indoors. Use rubber gloves and a spray disinfectant. Avoid stirring up and breathing in dust.