Beware of pet-associated zoonotic infections

Pets that are not well cared for can easily transmit various diseases to humans, such as parasitic infections, Campylobacter infections, rabies, and others. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to prevent diseases and properly care for pets at home.

According to Dr. Nguyen Dieu Thuy, a medical specialist at Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company (VNVC), keeping pets is a popular trend, especially among young people. Pets are diverse, with the most common being dogs, cats, hamsters, and ornamental birds. However, each of these animals can carry various diseases that may be transmitted to humans.

Parasitic infections

Many pet owners have the habit of playing, sleeping, and even considering their pets as family members or close friends. However, these actions pose a high risk of contracting parasitic infections from animals to pet owners.

For example, diseases like tick fever have a mortality rate of up to 20-30% in humans if not treated promptly. This is a dangerous disease caused by Rickettsia bacteria, which parasitize in the blood of dogs and cats. Infected individuals may experience symptoms such as headaches, high fever, nausea, abdominal pain, red spotted rash, confusion, and diarrhea. If left untreated, the disease can lead to hearing loss, paralysis, limb amputation, and in severe cases, death.

In addition, pet owners can also be infected with ascaris from dogs and cats, causing skin rashes, itching, eczema, headaches, seizures, prolonged fever, vestibular disorders, and sleep disturbances. The ascaris can form cysts in various organs such as the liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, eyes, muscles, or disrupt the function of the glomerulus, leading to bleeding and encephalitis if not detected and treated in a timely manner.

Hookworms can be transmitted to humans through close contact with the skin, such as hugging or kissing dogs and cats, or walking barefoot on damp ground contaminated with animal waste. Symptoms of hookworm infection include dry cough, chest pain, and irregular breathing. If the disease becomes severe, it can cause anemia, protein deficiency, and heart failure.

Nhiễm ký sinh trùng ở thú cưng

Children can get worms when contacting with dogs and cats. Source: Today Show

Campylobacter diarrhea

Campylobacter bacteria are commonly found in poultry and dogs and cats. The main route of infection is through contaminated food, undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk, animal waste, and contaminated water.

According to the World Health Organization, Campylobacter bacteria are one of the four main causes of diarrhea and the most common cause of gastroenteritis. Infected individuals with weakened immune systems can be at risk of death. Currently, there is no approved vaccine for disease prevention, there is only one vaccine undergoing clinical trials.

Rabies in pets

Currently, rabies is among the most dangerous and highly fatal infectious diseases in humans in Vietnam. The disease is transmitted through bites, scratches, or contact with open wounds or licking of animals on humans. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 59,000 deaths from rabies each year, and over 10 million people receive rabies vaccinations. In Vietnam, an average of 75 deaths from rabies is recorded each year. Nearly 400,000 people are bitten by dogs or cats and require preventive treatment with rabies vaccines, with an estimated cost of over 300 billion VND.

According to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Vietnam, there have been 43 deaths from rabies recorded nationwide since the beginning of 2023.

Vắc-xin bệnh dại ở thú cưng

Rabies vaccination is a measure to prevent disease and reduce death. Source: Healthworld

How to prevent these diseases

People should eat cooked and drink boiled, avoid raw or undercooked meat, and wash kitchen utensils, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t let young children play in areas with animal waste, and do not allow pets to enter the kitchen.

Every week, families need to clean the place where the pet lies. Pet waste should be kept in sealed bags and thrown in the trash. Families should periodically deworm and fully vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies, and wash hands after playing with pets.

Currently, there is a vaccine for rabies. People who often come into contact with animals should go to the hospital immediately after being bitten or scratched by an animal for examination and vaccination.

Vietnam currently has Verorab vaccine from France and Abhayrab vaccine from India to prevent rabies. The treatment course for people who have never been vaccinated includes 5 doses on days 0-3-7-14-28 (for intramuscular injection) or 4 doses on days 0-3-7-28 (for intradermal injection). In case the exposure level rises to the highest, antiserum injection is required. If proactively vaccinated before being bitten by a dog or cat, the treatment regimen will include 3 doses on days 0-7-21 or 0-7-28.

Source: VnExpress Newspaper

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