What kinds of zoonotic diseases could I get from an animal?

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Diseases that can be transmitted from animal to humans are referred to as  Zoonotic (zō-ō-nō′ tic) diseases.

What can I do to protect myself from zoonotic infections spread by animals?

  • Keep your pets up to date on vaccines and tests. 
  • Deworm your pet every year and bring in a fresh stool sample for testing. 
  • Always wash your hands well with soap and water after playing with or caring for animals. This is especially important before eating or handling food.
  • Be careful about what your pet eats and drinks. Feed your pet only pet food or cook all meat thoroughly before giving it to your pet.
  • Don’t give your pet raw or undercooked meat.
  • Don’t let your pets drink from toilet bowls or get into the garbage.
  • Don’t let your pets hunt or eat another animal’s stool (droppings).
  • Don’t bring home an unhealthy pet. If you are getting a pet from a pet store, animal breeder, or animal shelter, check the sanitary conditions and license of these sources. All new pets should be examined prior to bring them home, esp. if you have children or other pets.
  • Pick up feces immediately to prevent contamination of the environment from intestinal parasites. 
  • Scoop litter boxes every day.  The best is to use small quantities of the litter and dump it every day. 
  • Be careful when approaching stray or unfamiliar animals because you could get scratched or bitten. Stray animals can carry many infections.
  • Don’t ever touch the stool of any animal.
  • Keep your pets clean and well-groomed.
  • Have your cat’s nails clipped so he/she can’t scratch you. Discuss other ways to prevent scratching with your veterinarian. If you do get scratched or bitten, immediately wash the wounds well with soap and water.
  • Keep fleas and ticks off your pet. Use a topical flea and tick preventative every month, available through your veterinarian's office.
  • After handling reptiles such as snakes, lizards, and turtles be sure to wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning aquariums or cages.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals such as raccoons, bats, and skunks.
  • If you are bitten, seek medical advice immediately.
  • zoonotic diseases

Are there any tests a pet should have before I bring it home?

All new pets should be examined by a veterinarian before taking them home to make sure they are free from parasites or illnesses that may be transmittable to you or other pets in the house.  If a veterinarian is not available, any new pets should be kept separate from your other pets.  Your veterinarian will suggest any testing that might be necessary based on their exam.