Diseases transmitted from animals are called zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by parasites and can cause various symptoms such as diarrhea, muscle aches, and fever. Sometimes infected persons experience severe symptoms that can be life-threatening.
Foods can be contaminated if animals such as cows and pigs are infected with parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Trichinella. People can acquire trichinellosis by ingesting Trichinella-infected, undercooked meat such as bear, boar, or domestic pigs. Cryptosporidiosis can be acquired by people if orchards or water sources near cow pastures become contaminated from infected cows and people consume the fruit without proper washing.
Pets can carry and pass parasites to people but with proper hand washing the risk is greatly reduced.
Some dog and cat parasites can infect people. Young animals, such as puppies and kittens, are more likely to be infected with ascarids and hookworms. Contact with wild animals or places where wild animals have been can expose people to parasites. For example, people can be infected by the raccoon parasite Baylisascaris when they handle soil that is contaminated with infected raccoon feces.
There are simple steps you can take to prevent common parasite infections from animals. Making sure your pet is under a veterinarian's care will help protect your pet and your family from possible parasite infections. Washing hands frequently, especially after touching animals, and avoiding contact with animal feces can also help prevent infections. Following proper food-handling procedures will reduce the risk of transmission from contaminated food. People with compromised immune systems should be especially aware of contact with animals that could transmit these infections.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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