In this article, we’ll talk about the pets that you have at home that could make you sick and how you can prevent that from happening. The CDC has issued a warning about the presence of salmonella in baby turtles. The alert is issued in the midst of a sickness outbreak that has already claimed 15 lives in 11 states and sent five people to the hospital.
While domesticated cats and dogs make up the majority of pets in the United States, kids regularly request—and often get—more unusual companions.
You should think twice about introducing a little turtle into your home if your youngster is begging for a pet with a hard shell rather than a fluffy coat. It is illegal to sell these creatures as pets, and buying one might potentially make you very sick.
Causes of Salmonella Transmission in Baby Turtles
Several patients who have fallen ill in this outbreak have reported buying turtles with shells less than four inches, as reported by the CDC. Three people have turtles that they got from the website myturtlestore.com. Even though it is against the law to sell or distribute turtles of this size as pets, you may still find them for sale illegally online and in stores and flea markets.
Salmonella can be carried in the turtle’s excrement even if it appears to be in good health. This is not restricted to little pet turtles but applies to turtles of all sizes. Any person who comes into contact with the turtle and then eats or drinks without first washing their hands runs the risk of contracting whatever disease is on the turtle’s body. This includes the water in the turtle’s tank and anything else it comes into contact with.
Salmonella typically causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Symptoms of this sort can begin as soon as a few hours after ingesting salmonella bacteria, but they can also begin as late as six days later.
Companion Animals That May Cause Illness
Small turtles aren’t the only potential health risk to you or your kids. Salmonella can also be carried by other reptiles, including lizards and snakes, as well as by chicks, ducklings, fish, and amphibians like frogs and salamanders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against getting any of those kinds of animals as pets if you have young children under the age of five. Let your kid look but not touch at the petting zoo or fair!
When deciding on a pet for the home, parents should consider both the creature’s demands and the family’s lifestyle.
1. Amphibian and Reptile
Despite their widespread popularity as household pets in the United States, reptiles and amphibians can occasionally spread disease to humans. The fish-centric bacterium Mycobacterium marinum can also infect amphibians and reptiles. Humans are susceptible to skin lesions caused by this bacterium.
Common household pets like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, and mice can really be a health danger due to their close proximity to other rodents and their ability to spread disease.
Campylobacteriosis, which causes diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps; Leptospirosis, which causes high fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and a rash; and Lymphocytic choriomeningitis are all diseases that mice kept as pets can directly transmit (LCMV). Even more rarely, LCMV can cause similar symptoms, but it can also harm the brain and spinal cord.
Infections such as psittacosis, histoplasmosis, and cryptococcosis can be transmitted to humans from birds kept as pets. However, illness caused by these diseases is unusual. Infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are at the most risk for developing life-threatening illnesses.
Even though it is possible for people to get sick from fish or aquarium water, this happens very rarely. You may relax and enjoy your fish without worrying about them spreading the disease if you take proper care of their tank and don’t let children under the age of 5 touch the fish, the water, or the aquarium itself without adult supervision.
What about my kid, can they become sick from being around dogs or cats?
Pet cats and dogs that are well-cared-for will be up-to-date on their vaccinations. provided they are healthy themselves and get regular veterinary checkups and treatment.
Some potential health concerns deserve attention. Some canine and feline diseases can be transmitted to humans. Mild problems can be transmitted from pets, such as ringworm, scabies, and eye infections.
Leptospirosis is a bacterium spread through an animal’s urine that can be picked up by dogs. Anyone in the household that cleans up after a dog with Leptospirosis is at risk of contracting the disease.
Campylobacteriosis, sometimes known as cat tapeworm, can affect feline pets. Most cases of cat scratch fever (an infection caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae) occur in young cats and cats that hunt. Half or more of all cats may have been exposed to the bacteria at some stage. Cat scratch fever can affect anyone, but infants, young children, and teenagers are more at risk.
Who Is Most Prone to Animal-Transmitted Illnesses?
Diseases that can be passed between humans and animals primarily affect the young (those under the age of 5), the elderly (those 65 and above), and those with compromised immune systems (also known as zoonotic diseases).
Some animal-related diseases also pose a greater threat to pregnant women. The parasite toxoplasmosis can cause birth abnormalities; thus the CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid adopting new cats or touching stray cats. You shouldn’t get rid of your current cat, but you should delegate the task of cleaning the litterbox to someone else.
Pregnant women should also stay away from their pets’ rodents to avoid contracting the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which may cause serious birth abnormalities. Avoid coming into contact with the rodent, and assign someone else to clean up its habitat if you can.
Tips for Protecting Your Health When Surrounded by Pets
The greatest strategy to ensure your children’s safety around the family pet is to practice strict hand hygiene.
It’s possible for even the healthiest of pets to spread illness to humans. It’s not uncommon for household members, especially young children, to get sick after handling a pet or the creature’s surroundings and then putting their dirty hands in their mouths or on their meals.
Any time you interact with an animal, whether it’s feeding it, cleaning up after it, or touching its habitat, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Children should only wash their hands under the watchful eye of an adult. When washing your hands isn’t an option, hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
The spread of disease among humans can be mitigated by maintaining sanitary conditions for animal housing and supplies. When you’re done disinfecting the pet and its supplies, give the surrounding area a good scrub down as well. Even more so with smaller pets, it’s crucial to always keep them away from any and all areas where people eat or prepare food.
Pet poop may have parasites and bacteria that can make people sick, so use extreme caution around it.
It has been suggested by research that children who grow up in households with pets may experience greater health as adults. According to the results of small research published in Pediatrics, children who shared their homes with dogs may have been less likely to have respiratory infections in their first year of life. The results of this study also indicate that infants who share their homes with dogs may develop lifelong resistance to viral respiratory infections.
Pets may also help their owners by reducing stress and anxiety (when cuddled or stroked) and by increasing cardiovascular fitness when exercised and played with regularly.
Pets can improve children’s mental and emotional health, but bringing one home is no minor decision. Fish, birds, rodents, reptiles, and amphibians should not be kept as pets in homes with small children, the elderly, the immunocompromised, or pregnant women. These animals can spread salmonella to humans.
Encourage regular hand washing to protect your child’s health when he or she is with animals. Schedule frequent veterinary checkups, keep your pet up-to-date on preventive care (such as immunizations, deworming, and flea and tick management), and contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibits indications of disease to prevent spreading it to your family.