If you’re reading the title and wondering what the word zoonotic means, it refers to diseases that can be passed on from animals to human beings by the transfer of the virus or bacteria that causes them. Some diseases are just minor irritations and can be treated with a visit to the doctor, but many bring about complications that could have deadly consequences. As with any kind of disease, prevention is infinitely better than cure when it comes to the zoonotic kind too.

  • Ensure that your pet is vaccinated against diseases and kept in good health with regular visits to the vet.
  • At the first sign that anything is wrong with their health (lethargy, loss of appetite, change in behavior, and other physical signs), take them to see your vet instead of assuming that they will get better in a day or two.
  • If your pet is sick or has a disease that can be transferred to human beings, follow the right sanitation measures to minimize the risks – wear gloves while feeding and caring for your pet, wash your hands before meals, cook all meat thoroughly before eating, wash vegetables and fruits before you eat them, and use gloves to dispose of your pet’s feces.
  • Change your cat’s litter box frequently to ensure that parasites do not breed.
  • Some diseases like rabies are spread when the infected animal bites humans, so if your pet or any other animal has rabies, stay far away from them. Ensure that your pet is vaccinated against rabies, and ensure to the best of your ability that they’re not bitten by rabid animals.
  • Protect your children from rabid dogs and other animals by keeping them away from them. Don’t dump garbage outside your house – this draws stray animals into your backyard and within attacking range.
  • Diseases like ringworm, roundworm, hookworm and similar parasitical infections are spread through feces, infected food, and through the air. Ensure that your pet’s feces are disposed off hygienically; wash your hands thoroughly after feeding them and grooming them; keep your pet as clean as possible to prevent fleas and ticks from festering and becoming a breeding ground for the disease, and keep your house sterile and clean to prevent the transfer of the parasite through the air via the eggs of fleas and ticks. Cleanliness and hygiene are of the most importance when trying to prevent the spread of parasitical infections.
  • Some diseases like toxoplasmosis (which affect cats) are dangerous because the symptoms are not visible and cats become immune to the disease after a few days. However, human beings whose immune systems are compromised and pregnant women are susceptible to this disease. They must take adequate hygiene precautions to prevent contracting this disease.
  • If you get bitten or scratched by your pet or any strange animal, get the wound cleaned and treated immediately to prevent infection.
  • The risk of zoonotic diseases from strange animals is higher than from your pets because you don’t know how healthy the animal is. So avoid petting strange dogs and cats or getting too close to them.

Zoonotic diseases are dangerous, more so because many people are not aware of their consequences. However, with the right hygiene and the right precautions, their spread can be prevented.