Plague is a deadly disease caused by a germ called Yersinia pestis; it used to be responsible for epidemics and pandemics and was christened the black death. There was a recent outbreak in Madagascar. It is found in congested populations living in insanitary environments where rats can thrive. Rats have fleas on their bodies and the spread of plague is dependent on the fleas which bite rats and also man thus spreading the germs. In the tropical world it is common in colder months.
Like rats, fleas can also infest cats and dogs and thence their owners. Cats are more susceptible to plague than dogs, transmission can either be through the fleas on the body of the pet or directly from the pet to its owner through coughing.
Symptoms of plague include fever, headaches, depressed consciousness, multiole swellings in the various, bleeding from nose, mouth, intestines etc.
A germ called Campylobacter jejuni is common in the faeces of dogs and cats and can reach the owner in several ways. It could be directly from touching the animals, or touching the chair or any other place where the animal had laid on or played and then going on to eat without washing hands thoroughly. It causes diarrhea.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching your pet.
3. Cat Scratch Fever
A cat can occasionally scratch its owner or any other person and transfer a germ called Bartonella; this germ can cause fever and swollen lymph nodes. It is actually found in the fleas on the body of cats which off course gets to the cat’s finger nails.
Do not allow your cat to scratch you and report to your doctor if it does.
Rabies remains a big problem in Africa, South Africa and Asia. Over 17.5 million persons world-wide are treated for animal bites annually while about 50,000 persons die from rabies following dog bite. Rabies is rarely contracted from bites by other animals; more than 99 percent of all human rabies infections is due to dog bite. There are two types of rabies—URBAN CANINE-RABIES spread by unvaccinated domestic dogs or cats and the SYLVATIC RABIES spread by bats, wolves, foxes, mongooses, raccoons and skunks.
The following countries are rabies-free areas-Taiwan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Rabies is a sudden and fatal infection of the brain and nerves. It usually follows a bite by a rabies infected animal. The period between a bite and the onset of infection in man is usually 3-7 weeks depending on the distance of the bite from the spinal cord or brain but could extend to several years. An infected animal particularly the dog dies within 10 days of becoming aggressive.
Rabies is caused by a virus; the virus is bullet shaped with several protein components.
Rabies spreads through the bite of an infected animal; the virus is contained in the saliva of infected animals and enters the body through the bite marks or open wound. Rabies occasionally spreads from man to man by bite by an infected person (as the saliva also has the virus) or could be by air in bat caves.
5. Parasitic Infestation
Two parasites-Cryptosporidium and Giardia Duodenalis are common in the faeces of dogs and cats and can reach the owner in several ways. It could be directly from touching the animals, or touching the chair or any other place where the animal had laid on or played and then going on to eat without washing hands thoroughly.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching your pet. The main symptom of the infestation is diarrhoea
Meningitis is a highly contagious disease which spreads from person to person. It is a disease of the cover of the brain and spinal cord. It is found all over the world but more common in crowded communities with poor ventilation. In Nigeria,it is more common in the northern part which lies within the “Meningitis Belt”. People in all ages can have the disease but those under 30 years are more at risk.
Meningitis is caused by several agents on individual basis. It could be due to bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites or even injuries or cancer.
Meningitis can spread from pet to its owner through kissing from the pet; the saliva of cats or dogs contains a germ called pasteurella multocida as it lives in their mouths; it can also be through bites by the pet, by licking the nose/mouth/eyes of the owner ( pets are fond of doing that if allowed ).
Ringworm is caused by a mould-like germ called fungus. There are many types of fungi, the group that causes ringworm is called Trichophyton; there are many species of this fungus but Trichophyton rubrum is on the commonest.
Ringworm spreads through contact with infected person or animal; it can also spread through the use of infected articles such as combs, brushes, couches, caps/hats, and sheets.
Cats are more incriminated in the spread of ringworm to man than dogs. Pets should therefore be checked regularly for ringworm.