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Doctors say Pets and Owners Can Share Diseases

Can pets and their owners share diseases? Yes, especially if they get the illness from the same source.
Can pets and their owners share diseases? Yes, especially if they get the illness from the same source.

Although humans very rarely can cause an animal to become sick, there are some diseases that pets can give people.

We love them like family. Yet, although it's rare, pets can pass certain diseases on to people, especially to those who have weakened immune systems.

"The elderly, people taking immune suppressant drugs, people with HIV infection," Foxhall Internists Dr. John Dooley said.

For cats the most common transmission is called bartonella bacterium, or cat scratch disease. People who have it have a wound caused by a kitty scratch or bite that becomes infected. Cat feces also carries a parasite that can transmit toxoplasmosis. 

"Pregnant women who contract it could pass it to the developing baby, and that can have some serious consequences."

Dogs can become infested with bugs that can bite you and transmit some nasty illnesses. Although your dog can't give you lyme disease, a canine can carry the tick that can bite you.

"If not caught early, it can lead to a variety of complications, including arthritis, neurological system, even the heart," Dooley said.

And reptiles such as snakes, lizards and turtles carry a form of salmonella. Although the salmonella symptoms are usually mild in adults, young children can develop a more serious form of it, that can cause violent vomiting, diarrhea and tummy pain. So as much as they may love them, don't let your children kiss the turtle.

Best thing to do? Wash your hands, a habit that can keep pet and owner healthier and happier.
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