Anyone who is an athlete knows the importance of good health to be successful in any sport. This is why track and field runners are encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and have a healthy lifestyle in order to be at their best health. However, no matter how you take care of your health, diseases are inevitable and sometimes, they may come from the least expected sources: pets.
Many people are not aware that animals, particularly cats, can spread diseases to humans they frequently come in contact with. These diseases are collectively termed as zoonoses. Cat owners ought to know what these diseases are to not be caught unprepared.
This type of cat infection is caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii which reproduces in the lining of the cat’s intestines. It can be a dangerous disease among pregnant women as it may cause miscarriage, still birth or congenital toxoplasmosis among infants. If a person is infected, symptoms may vary greatly but would include fever, swollen lymph nodes and a feeling of malaise. The parasite is normally transmitted when a person fails to wash his or her hands after contact with the feces of infected cats, or by eating raw fresh produce harvested from soil with contaminated cat feces.
Rabies is a life-threatening viral infection that attacks the brain and spinal cord. The virus is normally present in the saliva of an infected dog or cat and spreads to humans through its bites. Symptoms of rabies may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, depression, insomnia, restlessness and rising paralysis. It could take around 20 to 60 days before any symptom can be manifested. Any case of cat bite should be considered as a medical emergency, particularly if the cat is showing abnormal behavior prior to the bite.
- Cat scratch disease
This is a bacterial disease that is commonly spread by kittens or young cats through licking, scratching or biting. Its symptoms include the appearance of crusty blisters that are reddish in appearance, which usually can be found around the area where the cat has scratched. These blisters normally come with headaches and fever as well as swollen lymph nodes.
Cryptosporidiosis is an infection caused by the tiny parasites cryptosporidium parvum. This type of parasite produces eggs which can survive for about three months in a moist environment. A cat owner can be infected with cryptosporidiosis through direct contact with the animal or by eating foods contaminated with the feces of an infected cat. In humans, it is a self-limiting disease with symptoms that may include abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Plague is another serious condition in the list of diseases spread by cats to humans. The germ Yersinia pestis which causes this condition can spread to humans through a bite of a flea that has fed on an infected cat. Plague can cause large abscesses and sores in the arms and legs, but it is treatable with antibiotics.
While you should care for a pet that has roundworms in cats or mange in cats and other diseases, those diseases that can be spread to humans deserve much more attention. Seek medical attention when you are in doubt on whether or not you are infected with any of the conditions listed above.