According to a recent study, pets can be a source of infection and newborns, the elderly, children with leukemia and people with weakened immune system are especially vulnerable.
Selecting the right pets and using safe strategies to care for them can reduce the risk, according to the authors of the paper published in in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Jason Stull” author_title=”Assistant professor at The Ohio State University, Columbus and co-author of the study”]
Studies suggest physicians do not regularly ask about pet contact, nor do they discuss the risks of zoonotic diseases with patients, regardless of the patient’s immune status.
According to Discovery News, the researchers aren’t suggesting that people give up their pets. Many studies over the years have shown that pet ownership offers many health benefits, and may even trigger the release of the beneficial brain chemical oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Jason Stull”]
We are not saying that you should get rid of the pet. But if your immune system is compromised, don’t take in a stray pet or a kitten with fleas, and if you have young toddlers, don’t take an iguana as a pet.
Reptiles, amphibians, hedgehogs, chinchillas, rodents and young chickens are some of the “highest risk” animals, Dr. Stull said. There aren’t good data on actual rates of so-called zoonotic infections, because governments don’t generally track diseases transmitted by companion animals, other than rabies, according to Reuters.
Unrelated to the story, cat-eating reptiles, commonly known as Nile monitors, were found along canals in Palm Beach County, north of Miami, and pose a real danger to pets and their owners. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service said that they are increasing their efforts in locating and removing these lizards.