Mount Sinai South Nassau presents:


Can your pet make you sick?

Q:Can your pet make you sick?


A:Yes. Just like you can catch a cold through a kiss or an unobstructed sneeze, pets can also pass diseases along to their owners. The bacteria that cause cat-scratch disease, for example, can be passed from an infected cat with no signs of illness through a bite or scratch or if it licks an open wound on you. And although most organisms in your dog’s mouth are not harmful, cases of bacterial transmission to people have been reported — so it’s not a good idea to let a dog lick your mouth, especially if you are immunocompromised (have a weak immune system). Also, be careful not to get pet saliva in an open wound.

You can also get rabies from an infected pet (cats, dogs or rabbits rarely) or toxoplasmosis from handling kitty litter of an infected cat. Reptiles pose a particular risk — turtles, snakes and iguanas can transmit salmonella bacteria to their owners.

You can reduce the risk by practicing good hygiene, keeping pet areas clean and keeping your pet’s shots up to date. But don’t worry, nearly everything you could catch is treatable. If you have any questions or concerns about how to safeguard your pets and your home, talk to your veterinarian and doctor.

To learn more about Mount Sinai South Nassau’s medical services, click here.

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