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USEFUL INFORMATION

TAPEWORM FACT SHEET

Humans have enjoyed the companionship of their four footed friends for centuries. Pets bring unconditional love, but they are sometimes accompanied by zoonotic parasites. A number of scientific studies have found that direct contact with pets can put people at risk for infection with zoonotic parasites.

What is a Zoonotic Parasite?

A parasite is an animal that lives upon or within another living organism at whose expense it obtains nutrients and shelter zoonotic parasites can be transmitted from pets to humans.

What are tapeworms?

Tapeworms are long, flat, are made up of many segments and can sometimes be several feet long. These parasites live in small intestines of dogs, cats, other domestic animals and wildlife. Tapeworms do not have a mouth, and instead hold onto the inside of the intestine with suckers. Some also have hooks that strengthen their attachment.

Who in the family is at risk?

Outdoor pets, pets with fleas or pets around infected animals are at risk of becoming infected with tapeworms. There is one species of tapeworm in dogs that can be transmitted to people resulting in serious disease. Children run a higher risk of coming in contact with zoonotic parasites due to their play habits, attraction to pets and pica (dirt eating).

How does infection occur?

Pets are commonly infected with tapeworms though the ingestion of fleas in the process of normal grooming, licking, or chewing. Pets can also contract the parasite by eating rodents or other animals. Humans can get the disease by either means of ingestion as well.

How do I know if my pet is infected?

Most commonly, pet parents will notice tapeworm segments (pieces of the worm passed as the worm grows in the intestines) around the anal area or on the surface of stool. The segments may be moving or may appear as grains of rice caught in the hair around the rectum. They may also be found in places where infected pets rest and sleep. By performing fecal exams annually, your
veterinarian may also detect tapeworm eggs before you see any symptoms at home. Some pets, especially kittens or puppies, do become noticeably ill and symptoms can include:
Vomiting
Severe weight loss
Loss of appetite
Swollen stomach
Severe anemia
Death

How are they treated?

Tapeworms are treated with an injection or oral medication. Treatment may need to be repeated and infection with tapeworms can reoccur anytime a pet has
fleas or ingests rodents or wildlife. Common over-thecounter dewormers are not usually effective in treating tapeworms.

What can you do to protect the entire family?

Schedule annual physical exams and fecal exams for your family pet
Practice good, consistent flea control that is recommended by your veterinarian
Quickly clean up after your pets to remove potentially infective eggs from your environment before weather, insects, or active migration of the larvae allows them to spread
Keep pets from eating rodents or wildlife
Discourage children from eating soil
Cover sand boxes when not in use, and avoid possibly contaminated areas
Practice good hygiene for both your family and your pet

USEFUL INFORMATION

ZOONOTIC DISEASES IN REPTILES AND BIRDS FACT SHEET

Humans have enjoyed the companionship of their scaly, furry and feathered friends for centuries. Pets bring unconditional love, but are sometimes accompanied by zoonotic diseases. A number of scientific studies have found that direct contact with pets can put people at risk for the transmission of a zoonotic disease.

WHAT IS A ZOONOTIC DISEASE?

Zoonotic diseases are any disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. This handout discusses two zoonotic diseases.

WHAT IS SALMONELLA?

Salmonella is an intestinal bacterium most commonly found in reptiles, but may also occur in dogs. Salmonella, however, is rarely found in cats.

Who in the family is at risk for Salmonella?

Salmonella is a zoonotic disease capable of being spread from animals to people. Since all reptiles are potential carriers, reptile owners have a higher risk of exposure. Pregnant women, young children and those with a compromised immune system (cancer patients, AIDS patients, chronically diseased) should avoid contact with reptiles.

How is Salmonella transmitted?

Salmonella is spread by direct or indirect contact. Children may contact the infection by putting their hands in their mouths after handling the reptile prior to thorough washing. Bathing a reptile, cleaning the cage or cleaning feeding dishes of your scaly friend in the kitchen sink can be an indirect source of infection to family members as well. Do not touch your face with your hands directly after handling your reptile and do not allow your reptile to touch your face as this can increase the chances of disease transmission.

How do I know if my pet or I is infected with Salmonella?

People may experience sudden onset of watery or mucous diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and lethargy. Reptiles do not show symptoms of Salmonella, thus all reptiles should be regarded as possible carriers. This does not mean that reptiles cannot be enjoyed and played with. For the right family, reptiles make excellent pets. Good hygiene such as thorough hand washing should be employed after playing with any pet.

How is Salmonella treated?

Since diagnosis can be difficult, treatment in dogs is often symptomatic, including medications to help with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and pain. Specific antibiotics can be used to treat a diagnosed Salmonella infection. Seek medical attention from your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health and visit your family practitioner for any health questions about your family.

What can you do to protect the entire family from Salmonella?

Pets with known infections should be isolated from other pets and family members and treated by your veterinarian. In people, practice good hygiene for both your family and pet. Encourage family members to wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets. Food/water dishes, cages, and reptiles should be kept out of food preparation areas.

WHAT IS CHLAMYDIA?

Chlamydia is a bacterial agent most commonly affecting birds, but is occasionally found in cats as well.

Who in the family is at risk for Chlamydia?

Chlamydia, also called Psitticosis, is a zoonotic disease capable of infection people. Infected people may also be a source of infection for birds. Since birds often carry the bacteria without being affected by it, bird owners are at increased risk.

How is Chlamydia transmitted?

Chlamydia is spread from birds and cats to people by inhaling or ingesting the bacteria from eye or respiratory discharge, stool or urine. Higher risk contact can occur while cleaning cages or visiting areas with a high volume of birds (chicken coops, etc.) but exposure can occur anywhere birds are present. Do not touch your face with your hands directly after handling your
bird and do not allow your bird to touch your face as this can increase the chances of disease transmission.

How do I know if my pet or I is infected with Chlamydia?

In cats, the infection can cause a mild inflammation of the tissues around the eye (conjunctivitis). Birds may be asymptomatic (without noticeable symptoms) or demonstrate eye or nasal discharge, trouble breathing, fluffed up or miserable appearance, bright green stool or green discoloration of the urates (the white material often mistaken for feces). People infected with Chlamydia may experience flu like symptoms including fever, headache and muscle aches. They may also develop atypical pneumonia, which can progress to serious neurological disease or heart disease. Seek medical attention from your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health and visit your family practitioner for any health questions about your human family.

How is Chlamydia treated?

Treatment can be very difficult in birds. Diagnosis in cats and birds will be treated with antibiotics such as tetracycline and symptomatically.

What can you do to protect the entire family from Chlamydia?

All new birds entering an aviary, including multi bird households, should be screened for Chlamydia. Pets with known infections should be isolated from other pets and family members and treated by a veterinarian. In people, practice good hygiene for both your family and pet. Encourage family members to wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets. Food/water dishes, cages and birds should be kept out of food preparation areas.
Besides Salmonella and Chlamydia there are many other zoonotic diseases that pet parents may be exposed to such as fungal disease, respiratory diseases and gastrointestinal diseases. Due to this it is imperative that good hygiene and the above safety precautions are implemented by all family members.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Zoonotic Skin Fungus: Ringworm Fact Sheet

Humans have enjoyed the companionship of their fourfooted friends for centuries. Pets bring unconditional love, but they are sometimes accompanied by zoonotic diseases. A number of scientific studies have found that direct contact with pets can put people at risk for the transmission of zoonotic diseases.

What is a zoonotic parasite?

A fungus is an organism that lives upon or within another living organism at whose expense it obtains nutrients and shelter. Zoonotic fungi can be transmitted from pets to humans and vice versa.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a zoonotic disease and is not actually a worm, but rather a fungus found in the soil that can infect the skin. Ringworms most commonly recognized in cats (often kittens), although dogs, rabbits and rodents can also become infected as well.

Who in the family is at risk for ringworm?

All family members who handle an infected animal are at risk. People who spend time cuddling and sleeping with infected pets are more at risk to become infected. Children run a higher risk, as well, of coming in contact with a zoonotic parasite due to their play habits and attraction to pets. Some people may be more susceptible than others to ringworm infection.

How is ringworm transmitted?

Ringworm is spread by direct contact with an infected animal by fungal spores in their hair or scales. Cats and kittens can spread the infection on themselves or between cats through grooming.

How do I know if my pet or I are infected with ringworm?

In animals, ringworm often appears as a crusty or scaly patch on the skin, and is sometimes accompanied with alopecia (hair loss). In people, the infection may appear on the skin as a ring with reddish borders (often on the face and hands). The infected areas may or may not itch and often have flaky edges. Infection can also appear on people’s scalp, beginning as a small raised area (papule). The hair then becomes brittle and the area increases in size, resulting in scaly, bald patches.

How is ringworm treated?

Ringworm requires medical attention. In pets, treatment may include bathing with special shampoo and applications of topical antifungal ointment to the infected area. For infections non-responsive to bathing and topicals, or in the case of widespread infection, oral medications may be needed. Humans usually respond to topical antifungal ointments.

What can you do to protect the entire family from ringworm?

Be aware of who your pets play with and discourage or prevent contact with ringworm-infected pets. In people, practice good hygiene for both your family and pet. Encourage family members to wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets. Seek medical attention from your veterinarian if you notice your pet is chewing at her skin or itching or you see any unusual hair
loss or skin concerns.

USEFUL INFORMATION

ZOONOTIC SKIN PARASITES: SCABIES FACT SHEET

Humans have enjoyed the companionship of their fourfooted friends for centuries. Pets bring unconditional love, but they are sometimes accompanied by zoonotic parasites. A number of scientific studies have found that direct contact with pets can put people at risk for the transmission of zoonotic parasites.

What is a zoonotic parasite?

A parasite is an animal that lives upon or within another living organism at whose expense it obtains nutrients and shelter. Zoonotic parasites can be transmitted from pets to humans.

SCABIES (MANGE)

Scabies, also referred to as mange, is caused by a small animal called a mite. Mites are members of the arachnid family (spiders, etc.) that live within the hair follicle. They are microscopic and cannot be seen with the human eye. Scabies mites gain their nutrients by feeding on the blood of their host (animal they are living on).

Who in the family is at risk for scabies?

Pets become infected with a different kind of scabies mite than the mite that causes scabies in humans. If your pet is infected with scabies, and they have close contact with you, the mite can burrow into your skin and cause itching and skin irritation for several days. However, on humans the mite dies in a couple of days and does not reproduce. Until your pet is successfully treated, mites can continue to burrow into your skin and cause you to have symptoms.

If your symptoms persist past the successful treatment of your pet you will need to seek medical attention from your physician. All family members who handle an infected animal are at risk. People who spend time cuddling and sleeping with infected pets are more commonly infected. Children run a higher risk of coming in contact with these itchy mites due to their play habits and attraction to pets.

How is scabies transmitted?

There are many different types of mites that are species specific meaning they need a particular host to carry out their lifecycle. In the wrong host they cause discomfort but cannot go through their full life cycle. Scabies mites are spread by direct contact with an infected animal or environment.

How do I know if my pet is infected with
scabies?

In animals, scabies most commonly affects the skin of the tips of the ears, face, muzzle and elbows. In pets with other serious medical issues or immune system problems, the infection may spread over the entire body. The infection causes crusting of the skin, hair loss and intense itching. Pets become infected with a different kind of scabies mite than the mite that causes scabies in humans.

How is scabies treated?

Scabies requires medical attention and will not clear up on its own. Pets are treated with medications to kill the mites. They may also require medications to treat the itching and any other skin problems caused by the itching (scratches, wounds, etc.). Scabies can be life threatening in pets with weakened immune systems or when the infection has spread over the entire body. People who
suspect they have scabies should seek medical attention.

What can you do to protect the entire
family from scabies?

Be aware of who your pets play with and discourage or prevent contact with scabies-infected pets. Practice good hygiene for both your family and pet and encourage family members to wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets. Seek medical attention from your veterinarian if you notice your pet is chewing at his skin or itching.