The definition of zoonosis is not the act of travelling to a zoo. It is a term referring to the transmission of disease from one species to another. An example of zoonosis would be roundworm. Pets can carry roundworm. Roundworms look like spaghetti and are very common in puppies and kittens.
You may see the worms pass in the stool or be present in vomit. People can get roundworm from their pets. Ick! How does this happen? It is what we refer to as fecal – oral transmission. Roundworm eggs pass in the pet’s stool and if you come into contact with the stool and then let’s say, eat some potato chips without washing your hands… you get the picture. Though we do not host the roundworm, in the same manner, we can still have adverse effects from exposure.
Children, seniors and immunosuppressed individuals are at the greatest risk. The good news? This is easy to prevent. Deworming puppies and kittens is of paramount importance. According to the Canadian Parasite Council of Canada, routine deworming should continue throughout the life of your pet. Your Veterinarian can help you decide which dewormer is best for your pet.
So, we have learned you can prevent getting roundworm from your dog and cat. What about other people’s pets? That, unfortunately, you cannot control. Why do we say to wear gloves when you garden? Why are the covers for sandboxes children play in? Other animals. We cannot say whether other animals have been dewormed. This is where personal hygiene is so important. Please encourage your children to wash their hands regularly, wear gloves when you garden, cover your sandboxes and discourage the eating of dirt at all times J.
Roundworm is one example of a zoonotic disease transmitted the fecal/oral route. Hookworm is a parasite people can get by walking barefoot. It is transmitted through the skin. Some zoonotic diseases are airborne. It is believed that A.I.D.S. began by chimpanzee to human transmission.
Your Veterinarian is the best person to speak to regarding zoonosis as it pertains to your pet. Pets are a wonderful addition to our families and we encourage the pet/animal bond as it has many benefits to our lives. Remember, you can get a lot more disease from human to human relationships!
Written by Jen Kendrick, Site Coordinator