Seven Pet ‘Peeves’ That Can Make Us Sick

Dogs, cats, even fish help keep us happy and healthy (mostly) — but here are conditions we must prevent

by Manny Alvarez, MD | Updated 28 Jul 2017 at 11:31 AM

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To protect yourself, avoid taking your pets to thick, grassy areas, especially in the spring and summer. When coming indoors, check for ticks on yourself and your pet and remove them immediately. Kill them by wrapping in plastic.

6.) Worms. You may not realize it, but you can indeed contract worms from your pet. This is yet another reason to make sure that you keep up to date on all deworming procedures as well as shots and flea control. These worms live inside the gastrointestinal tract as a parasite, and their larvae get passed into your pet’s feces.

Many times, humans contract worms from their pets by walking outside barefoot. The worms may break through the skin undetected or get ingested through contamination of the hands. The CDC estimates human infections into the hundred millions globally, although infections in the U.S. have reduced drastically with improved living conditions.

Related: Avoiding a Fido Freakout: How to Add a Second Pet

6.) Toxoplasmosis. This pet disease happens when people become infected by a microscopic parasite common in pets, especially cats. The disease can cause mild flu-like symptoms, but it may have larger complications if a woman gets infected while pregnant. With this disease, the best rule is prevention.

Clean cat litter daily, using gloves if necessary, and avoid direct contact with animal feces. Also, be sure to wash hands thoroughly after gardening. If pregnant, consider having someone else clean up after the pets.

7.) Rabies. When talking about contagious diseases from pets, you cannot leave out rabies. This virus infects the central nervous system of both animals and humans and is ultimately fatal. To prevent rabies, keep all pets up to date on the rabies vaccine, and stay away from wild animals.

Related: Most Surprising Ways to Heal from Illness

For the most part, pets offer love, affection and laughs. However, you should be aware of these contagious diseases that you can contract from your pets and learn how to prevent them. Thorough cleaning and adequate hygiene for both you and your pets go a long way in prevention.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. This Fox News piece is used by permission; it also appeared on 

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