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!


 

19 comments
Rshep29
Rshep29

The second one I always think of is Ringworm! I had a few patients who passed that on to their humans :)

Sweet Purrfections
Sweet Purrfections

My parents had a pooper station set up in their neighborhood in the hopes that all people would pick up after their dogs.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Sweet Purrfections What a great idea! I remember hoping when that pet potty came out, the one that gets hooked up outdoors, that it would catch on in towns and cities. Imagine having a place to flush things directly into the waste system and remove much of that poop encased in plastic bags from landfill. Thanks for sharing your experience =)

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dailydogtag
dailydogtag

Thanks for sharing this great information! I didn't know that much about roundworm prior to this podcast.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@dailydogtag Thanks for letting me know you gained new information from the podcast -- when I was working with Apryl on this series, that's exactly what we hoped would happen! Thanks for stopping by =)

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RosaDoodle1
RosaDoodle1

What a great post full of info I have to admit I didn't know about! I honestly had no idea how the dog poop continued to carry diseases. It's important to know this for sure!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@RosaDoodle1 Glad you checked it out! It's always fun to learn something new about our pets -- it can be life-saving at times. I really enjoyed doing this series with Dr Steele. She's an excellent educator with a lively personality that comes through in these interviews.
Thanks for stopping by =)

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SierraKoester
SierraKoester

This is a great podcast that every dog owner should listen to.  It contains very detailed information that will help protect you and your family from getting zoonatic diseases. 

mattiedog
mattiedog

This is such an awesome posting - I will definitely share it! We try not to fret to much - be clean, eat clean, clean the things around us; and just for added bonus, momma and dadz be vegan. She still smooches me on da mouf tho - hey, you can't blame her, I mean look at me! Again - great write up and I'm sharing!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@mattiedog Thanks, Mattiedog, I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing, too -- and no, I can't blame her one bit for giving you smoochies on the mouth, I do the same to Tashi =) We love our dogs!

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Sunish
Sunish

Very informative podcast! These days I am taking my dog Patchouli back and forth to the vet.

Apryls
Apryls

Interesting comments, and they are related in a way. 

Great questions.  There has never been a documented case where a person became infected with Ebola from contact with an animal other than when a primate was butchered and eaten by a human being.  It is unclear in this situation if the transmission was via butchering the animals and the virus infected the people through the person's wounds, if it was from inhalation, or if it was from eating the meat.  There have also been reports of pigs with a similar virus, and people in contact with these pigs developing antibodies to Ebola, but these people did not become ill. Nonetheless, this does not represent a risk to pet owners of contracting Ebola from a dog.  For interested listeners/readers here is a summary of all documented Ebola virus outbreaks and their origins:  http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/resources/outbreak-table.html

As to LuAnn Texas' question, all of the zoonotic diseases I discussed have methods of transmission which do not include ingestion of the animal's meat.  The riskiest transmission is via the fecal-oral route.  You may be thinking about toxoplasmosis, which we did not discuss.  Toxoplasmosis is found in cat feces and is the reason many pregnant women convince their partners to clean the litter box.  However, it is very difficult to contract Toxoplasmosis from cleaning a litter box and most infections results from eating under-cooked meat (ie pork). 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@LuAnnTexas asks Dr Apryl

: "I thought some of the diseases only contagious dog to human if human eats dog meat? i.e. China"


MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

We have a question for Apryl sent to me yesterday from Morganslists.com: (paragraphing is mine for easier reading)

"

"...has come at a great time! Someone literally came on my property, in the middle of the night two days ago, and left a 5 week old puppy wrapped in a baby blanket on my doorstep. My husband is worried that she may pass a disease or worms to him, so I let him read your post/listen so he can learn ways to avoid catching anything. Thanks again :) 

I also liked that you included information about the recent Ebola outbreak..Although, despite the doctor's comment that Ebola is not zoonotic, it actually is (very much so, so I have no idea why she said this) they proved it with a test on monkeys and pigs. They believe it originated in bats.

She must have meant that we cannot get the disease from dogs alone, but if you have both dogs and pigs then it is probably possible to catch it from the dog via the pig. They also find one of the 5 types of ebola antibodies in pig farmers, despite the fact that they had no contact with the slaughter house (where we previously thought that this specific type of ebola was only possible to be passed along.)"

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