There are many zoonoses, yet most of them are rare.
Zoonoses (Zoo-no-sees, singular is zoonosis) are diseases found in animals that can be transmitted to people. Cats are no exception, yet people rarely become sick from contact with a cat. Learn more about the disease all animals can carry that may be transmitted to people below.
All animals can carry diseases that may be transmitted to people. These diseases are called zoonoses. (Zoo-no-sees, singular is zoonosis) Cats are no exception, yet people rarely become sick from contact with a cat. When that does happen, it is often from a cat you knew nothing about, who was harboring some zoonotic disease you are unaware of. Some people are more likely to get diseases from cats including children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people being treated for cancer.
There are many zoonoses, yet most of them are rare. For specific information about a disease, we recommend you consult the most authoritative experts at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) . Here you will find detailed information about all the zoonotic diseases, prevention, and treatment.
Some cat-related zoonoses are fairly common, such as cat scratch disease (or cat scratch fever), while others, such as plague, are extremely rare. Toxoplasmosis is a disease of concern to pregnant women. It can come from cats, but people are more likely to get it from eating raw meat or from gardening. Cats can also carry rabies, a deadly viral disease. Ringworm, which is really a fungus not a worm, is a non-fatal but exasperating problem when it is passed from a young cat to your family members.
To protect your family from cat-related diseases, we recommend these simple steps:
- Be wary with any cat you do not know, including strays and newly adopted cats. As soon as you adopt a cat, it is essential you have her examined by a veterinarian, regardless of what the person you got her from tells you about her health. Only a doctor is able to determine the health of your cat, so do not rely on the adopter’s assurances, not matter how well intentioned.
- If you own a cat, keep up to date on vaccines and parasite preventions. Again, consulting with your cat’s doctor is preferable to internet searches and asking your friend’s advice.
- If you have an immunocompromised person in the house take special care, especially if that person is scratched or bitten. If you are scratched or bitten by a cat, wash the area with soap and running water right away. Call your MD first, and then call us to discuss prevention ideas.
- If you are pregnant, learn about toxoplasmosis. Cats are not the main source, and simple steps can prevent transmission to you. For details on Toxoplasmosis, here’s the CDC website: CDC – Toxoplasmosis – General Information – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after feeding your cat or cleaning the litterbox.
As always, call the clinic if you have any questions about your cat.