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Can sleeping with our pets make us sick?

Friday, March 4, 2011
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-humanLots of things make us sick, there are germs everywhere but some reports have recently surfaced indicating that sleeping with our pets could make us sick. My cat has been sleeping in my bed for over 10 years.  This is certainly not good for allergy sufferers. In a February Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)  paper  that was issued, researchers Bruno Chomel and Ben Sun detail a host of maladies — plague, parasites, other bad bacteria and, yes, cat scratch fever — that humans have contracted from sleeping next to or being licked by pets.

So given this information, should we worry?  Maybe, but diseases that are transmitted from pets to humans are rare but they could be very nasty if they do occur.

For those unwilling to kick our beloved cat or dog out of bed just yet, Chomel and Sun do offer some recommendations for reducing risk:

  • Any area licked by a pet — especially for children or those with open wounds or a compromised immune system — should be immediately washed with soap and water.
  • Pets should be regularly examined a veterinarian, routinely given  pet medication to depworm them and they should be kept free of parasites such as fleas.
  • Treat puppies, or mama dogs during the last few weeks of pregnancy, with anthelmintics, drugs that expel parasitic worms.

Of course the risk is higher if your pet goes outdoors. Cats that  always stay indoors usually pose a low risk.

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