- Proper care of your pet may prevent him/her from becoming ill and infecting your household. Further, to prevent the spread of infectious disease from your pet, take the following precautions:
- Keep your pet's immunizations current.
- See a veterinarian regularly with your pet for health checkups.
- Keep your pet's bedding and living area clean.
- Feed your pet a balanced diet and avoid having your pet eat raw foods or drink out of the toilet.
- Clean cat litter boxes every day. Pregnant women should avoid touching cat litter, because it may contain infectious diseases that cause birth defects, including toxoplasmosis.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching animals or cleaning up animal waste.
- Washing hands is especially important after handling reptiles, because reptiles may harbor a bacteria called salmonella. Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, characterized by up to a week of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people who contract salmonella will have symptoms from four to seven days and recover without treatment.
Wild animals and insects can be carriers for some very serious diseases, including rabies, tetanus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the hantavirus, and the plaque. Animal bites and scratches, even when they are minor, may become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body. Whether the bite is from a family pet or an animal in the wild, scratches and bites may carry disease. Cat scratches, for example, even from a kitten, may carry "cat scratch disease," a bacterial infection. Bites and/or scratches that break the skin are even more likely to become infected.