What can you Catch from your dog?
“Can I catch it from my dog?” is a question asked every day by every veterinarian in practice and the answer is almost always negative. Almost but not always. Depending on the authority quoted, there are 165 to 30o diseases transmissible Irons lower animals to man. Why the discrepancy in numbers?
Many years ago, a study was made of the dogs in our veterinary establishment and our research kennel. The sampling was done monthly for eleven months. It indicated that over 28 percent had salmonella of one type or another in their intestinal tracts. The investigator thought the findings were so significant that he would not publish them for fear the owners would get rid of their dogs.
There is an occasional case of scabies and ringworm in dogs, perhaps one each a year, where some human in the family has the same problem. Ringworm may be brought home to Irons school by the children and infect the dog, rather than vice versa.
On the list, less than half the diseases are found in North America and some have been reported so rarely that they make medical history when identified.
Perhaps the best-known virus disease transmitted from dogs to manis rabies. There is no doubt that it is the most serious disease, but preventive inoculations have made it a rarity in dogs. Wild animals are the chief vectors with skunks, foxes, bats, and raccoons leading the list of cases of this fatal disease. However, more human side of infected ingrown toenails each year than rabies.
Of the other virus diseases, measles and mumps are transmitted to dogs from a sick person in the house but once established, these viruses may be passed from the dog to another person in the house.
In some areas of the world rickettsial diseases are represented by dogs as important hosts to infected ticks which may then transmit them toman them.
Q fever does not appear to be a very serious problem in North America but blood tests indicate a significant part of the population has had and recovered from it. Since the symptoms in mass are similar to those caused by many strains of flu, Q fever may be overlooked in the diagnostic process. It is estimated that 19 percent of all animals including men have had the disease. Lower animals show few signs of illness but it is thought they play some role in spreading the disease. Ticks and some other bloodsucking insects spread it but airborne organisms probably enter through the respiratory system in most cases of Q fever. Another disease in this group is Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is spread by ticks. This tick-borne disease is rarely reported but when it is it is usually found as headline news.
The list of bacterial diseases is long, but dogs with any of them rarely transmit them to us. If dogs do have a high incidence of salmonella there does not appear to be a corresponding incidence in men. There have been a few cases of brucellosis in dogs that were transmitted, it is thought, by pets to mats
Many animals, perhaps most, are capable of contracting leptospirosis, a spirochetal disease, and there have been cases reported now and then of people contracting the disease from their pets. Lime fever is spread by ticks and has been diagnosed in a few dogs but so far is thought to be primarily a human problem.
Ringworm heads the list of fungus diseases, but how many people do you know who have contracted it from their pets? Although cats have a much higher incidence of it than do dogs, few people have seen it in any pet. When contracted it’s little more than a nuisance. All pets appear to develop immunity upon recovery.
Many of the fungal diseases have an affinity for the lungs and once established are among the most difficult of diseases to treat in man and beast. They are contracted by inhalation of spores of dust in the air. The infected dog may cough up spores that dry up, become airborne, and can infect us.
Although dogs do have amoebic dysentery, a protozoan disease, they transmit it by contaminating food or drinking water, which man must ingest to become infected. Most of us, however, don’t eat such food or drink such water.
The disease toxoplasmosis has had extensive reporting ins the more sensational press. It is dangerous to developing embryos in pregnant humans and it may cause birth defects. Dogs do have the disease about as frequently as men and a majority of humans tested indicate they have had and recovered from the disease without demonstrating any symptoms.
The wormlike creatures in nematode diseases are at worst a nuisance except in the occasional rare case. When ingested by children, the eggs of the roundworm hatch, burrow through the intestinal wall and migrate anywhere in the body. If one finds its way to an eye it may be misdiagnosed as a type of cancer.
Dirofilaria, or heartworm disease, in men may cause lesions in the lungs that may appear as lung cancer. The dog hookworm may penetrate the skin and cause a skin rash called creeping eruption. Dogs and men do contract trichinosis, but only in areas of the world where lean dog meat is eaten could this disease be transmitted from dog to man.
The flatworms and flukes of cestode diseases are more serious in lands far from North America. When a dog is affected it acts as an intermediate host to infect man. A parasitized dog passes feces with the parasite eggs into the water where fish, crabs, crayfish, and even plants are infected which, if eaten by man, can cause one of these diseases.
Scabies in Irian is caused by contact with a dog with sarcoptic mange. There have been rare cases of so-called red or demodectic mange resulting irons direct contact with a parasitized pet, and it is so infrequent that veterinarians don’t talk about the possibility to owners. Demodectic mange is commonly found on the human face, where it causes no problem. Over the years, during the many outbreaks of influenza that have occurred in North America, veterinarians have observed the house dog with a condition similar to that of the flu-afflicted human members of the household.
Another condition perhaps more common than all the others combined is poison ivy poisoning. Although dogs do not contract it they can run through the lush leaves and come home to be petted, thereby exposing humans in the household to the oil of the plant that causes the rash.
Some people say they are allergic to their dogs. They are really allergic to their dog’s dander. It becomes airborne and is inhaled, resulting in a reaction in a susceptible person. An asthmatic-sounding client who had to take many short breaths during each sentence. One day he arrived to leave his Boston Terrier in our care. He was going into the hospital for tests to determine the cause of his shortness of breath. When he returned three days later with a clean bill of health, his breathing was normal. He collected his dog and left. An hour later someone brought the little dog back. It seems that the owner was allergic to his dog and in the hospital, away from his pet, he had recovered from the allergy.
With the dog in the car on the way home he had a violent attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. When he returned two days later he told us the doctors wanted him to get rid of the dog but that he would rather die. Rub your palms with mineral oil and rub the oil over the dog’s body daily. This “sealed” the skin, preventing the dander from becoming airborne, and our allergic client solved his problem.
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