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The pet with whom you share your home and possibly your bed can transfer a skin disease or other disease to you. Cats and dogs can transfer a wide variety of diseases, called zoonotic diseases, to humans. Some of these diseases can have serious effects on your skin.
Protect yourself by making sure your pet has regular veterinary care, including when you notice something different about his skin, to avoid a nasty skin condition. Read on to learn more about a few common types of skin conditions that your pet can transfer to you.
Our pets can contract a wide variety of bacterial infections as they move through the world. Many of these bacterial infections can be passed to humans through contact with urine or feces, saliva, or the coat of an infected animal.
Staphylococcus is the most likely bacterium to cause a skin infection in humans. Most bacterial infections are treatable with antibiotics.
If you have a pet, you probably have heard of hookworm, a very common parasite that affects both dogs and cats. It can, unbeknownst to many pet owners, also affect humans.
Hookworm can be passed from pets to their owners in a condition called cutaneous larval migrans and cause a skin infection from the larval stage of this worm known as “creeping eruption.” This is characterized by severe itching, blisters, and a creeping rash on the skin.
In the world of pet-related skin conditions, there's mange and then there's sarcoptic mange. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic mite called sarcoptes, which bites into your pet's skin. This mite can be transferred through casual contact with your skin, causing a condition known as scabies in humans. Thankfully, sarcoptic mange and scabies are treatable with medication.
Ringworm—a condition caused by a fungal infection, not a worm—can affect both humans and pets. It is zoonotic and can be transferred either from owner to pet or vice versa. Ringworm causes hair loss, scaly scalp, skin lesions, and itching. This condition also can be treated with antifungal medications.
Regardless of what kind of pets you may have, keeping your companion animals in good physical condition is the best insurance against picking up a skin condition or disease from one of them. Regular checkups with your veterinarian and fast action whenever symptoms of a skin disease arise are both key to keeping you and your pets healthy and safe.
Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.
Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.
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