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Resources > Healthcare Tips & Alerts > Pets, Parasites & People ... Zoonotic Diseases and Vector-borne Diseases

Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, are those diseases that can be transmitted directly or indirectly from animals to humans.  For example, some worms can be transmitted in the environment.

Vector-borne diseases are those transmitted by fleas or ticks among other parasites that infest dogs and cats.  They can affect pets and people.  Ticks can transmit a large number of "vector-borne" diseases in North America including ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.  Rickettsiosis (infection with Rickettsia) can be transmitted directly by ticks.  Bartonellosis (infection with Bartonella) is transmitted between cats by fleas and then may spread to people.  Also, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworms, which can infect both your pet and humans.

A number of intestinal worms can infect dogs and cats, varying according to species.  These include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, and they are very prolific.  One worm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pet's feces and spread throughout the area the pet roams.  Once in the environment, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years.

Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of pets and the most likely to be transmitted to humans.  Humans can accidentally ingest infective worm eggs that have been passed through the pet's feces and left in the environment.  Eggs can then hatch in the human's intestinal tract, and the immature worms can travel to various tissues in the body, including the eyes and brain, potentially causing serious infections.

There are many parasites that may affect your pet such as Coccidia, Ear Mites, Giardia, Mange Mites, etc.  The information provided herein is to serve as general information and assistance and does not provide information on all parasites.  It is extremely important that you discuss preventive parasite control with your regular veterinarian.

You can reduce the risk of parasitic infection to your family by eliminating parasites from pets; restricting access to contaminated areas such as sand boxes, pet "walk areas", and other high-traffic areas; and practicing good personal hygiene.

Disposing of pet feces on a regular basis can help remove potentially infective worm eggs before they become distributed in the environment and are picked up or ingested by pets or humans.

Use a preventive flea and/or tick treatment year-round.

Only feed pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat).

Administer de-worming medication as recommended by your veterinarian.

Pets, Parasites & People ... Zoonotic Diseases and Vector-borne Diseases