How To Keep Children Safe From Infection and Parasites From Pets

 Pets are great companions both outside and inside the house. Adults adore them; children love them all the more. But that cuddly and adorable puppy or cat can also give more than affection—it can pass along bacterial and parasitic infection.

Children are especially susceptible because they’re more likely to kiss and hug pets, and less likely to be meticulous about hygiene.  Good thing about this is, most pet-transmitted diseases can be easily treated with antibiotic or any anti-fungal medication; some even go away on their own.  In any case, it’s best to contact the doctor at the first sign of symptoms.  Here are some of the parasites and infections that commonly come from animals and some facts you need to know:

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis – a viral infectious disease spread naturally by house mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs.  An infected person may show symptoms such as seizures, breathing problems, and eye discharge.  The disease can be acquired by touching an affected animal’s urine, droppings or blood.

Intestinal worms – a parasite infection that can be transmitted from dogs and cats.  Tapeworms can cause diarrhea and weight loss; roundworms are visible in stools.  Intestinal worms are transmitted through contact with soil or sand that is contaminated with feces with worm larvae.

Salmonella – Reptiles, such as iguanas and turtles may carry salmonella bacteria.  A person infected with salmonella may experience diarrhea and vomiting.  Salmonella is transmitted through handling infected animals.

Parrot fever – is a disease that infects both animals and humans.  This bacterial infection can come from birds, like parrots and parakeets.  Symptoms of a parrot fever-infected person include coughing, chest pain, fever, chills, and vomiting.  This can be transmitted through contact with bird feces or by inhaling the dust in bird cages.

To prevent or avoid these pet-borne illnesses, here are some simple steps.
  • Have new pets tested before bringing them home.
  • Have animals vaccinated and routinely dewormed.
  • Keep litter boxes and cages clean.
  • If your pet displays excessive scratching, hair loss, digestive upset or other signs of illness, take it to the vet.
  • Don’t use the kitchen sink to clean your pets or their toys, cages, or tanks.
  • Don’t let children play in sandboxes that aren’t covered when not in use (animals may have urinated or defecated in them)
  • Teach children not to touch animal droppings or let pets lick their face or hands.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water after handling pets.

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