Dog Diseases Transmitted to Humans: What’s Zoonotic, What’s Not?

by Mary Haight on August 21, 2014

Dog diseases transmitted to humansWhat dog diseases are transmitted to humans? Almost everyone will respond with “rabies”, but then what? How do these zoonotic diseases jump from dogs into people and more importantly, how can you prevent it? While we’re at it, what diseases can we give our dogs? We’ll be exploring these questions and what you need to know, but first a quick look at the big picture.

Environmental Changes

I remember a few years ago there was an alert that rabid raccoons were on the move from Ohio to Illinois and people in their path needed to know that for the safety of their livestock, pets and themselves. You might have experienced local warnings about not touching any dead birds found as possible carriers for West Nile Virus, or heard distemper had hit a wildlife population. Changes in the environment facilitates the spread of disease.

Deforestation from fire or clear-cutting displaces wildlife, stressing those populations and creating opportunity for disease as they move into populated areas, like your back yard or the local woods where you walk your dog. On a global level, people, animals and food supplies move across borders in an unending stream, large livestock operations (CAFOs) and slaughtering methods all create their own opportunities for disease and infection  – recent research notes that more than 70% of new infectious disease in humans actually comes from animals (CDC).

One Small Act Can Change Outcomes for a Community

One action you can take to cut the spread of disease is clear: Pick up after your dogs — no matter how “gross” you think it might be. If you think leaving your dog’s, er, leavings, is a natural way to recycle, think again. Not only does dog poop pollute the groundwater, but diseases like leptospirosis, parvo, and distemper are shed in dog poop for months after the dog has recovered. 

What’s worse is that these diseases live in the soil for an undetermined number of years. (I don’t know about you, but suddenly I’m not so nostalgic for the times I lolled in the grass as a child…)

Dog diseases transmitted to humans


Then also consider there are hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, e-coli, campylobacter, cryptosporidium, salmonella that can spread, not to mention flies that make your home their own.

Dr Apryl Steele is back to look at what’s happening in the world of zoonotic disease that applies to living with dogs, explaining the difference between what’s zoonotic and what’s infectious, and the easiest ways to avoid some devastating outcomes of dog diseases transmitted to humans.

If you’ve had any encounters with zoonotic disease, and would like to share your experience, please do. If you have questions or comments for me or Dr. April, we will be happy to answer them. And if there’s a topic you’d like covered, make a suggestion in the comments =) Enjoy the podcast!


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