While they certainly qualify as parasites themselves, fleas are not the only ones that can cause trouble for you and your pets. Their feces contain other, even smaller parasites, aside from Bartonella. For example, Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium are not uncommon. Much like the aforementioned Campylobacter jejuni and its stomach bug, you can expect to go through a bout of diarrhea if you get infected. Since this illness is also a matter of poop patrol, it’s critical to stress again the importance of washing your hands after disposing of pet waste, and generally keeping a clean yard or litter box.
You might think, based on the name, that ringworm is caused by worm parasites. It’s not. Actually, ringworm comes from a fungus, and it’s named more for its shape than its source. A ringworm infection leads to round patches of itchy skin, sometimes complete with ooze. Great, right? While cats are generally the carriers, in this case, dogs can also carry it. The infection can spread from the host directly, or indirectly through objects the host has touched. If you think a pet has ringworm (circular lesions, bald patches, redness), take it to a vet.
You’ve probably heard of meningitis, but you may not know that it’s possible to pick it up from your furry friends. Meningitis is caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida, and because it can be found in the mouths of cats and dogs, it can be transmitted via bites that break the skin. With well-behaved pets, this isn’t a significant threat, but there is another means of entry. Like most bacterial or viral infections, it can infect the body if it has access to a mucous membrane. That’s the mouth, nose, and eyes. Avoiding face licks will reduce your chances of infection.
To be fair, while it is possible to catch these illnesses from pets, the odds are very small. The odds get even smaller when you take proper hygiene into account, for both family and pets. Make sure people and animals have all their shots up to date. If your pets have fleas or ticks, eliminate the pest problem. When cleaning up after pets, consider wearing gloves and safety goggles, and wash your hands after you’ve finished. No need to love your pets any less, but a few precautions will keep everyone healthier and happier.