Zoonotic Diseases: 5 Diseases Humans Can Catch From Cats
Although most cat diseases only affect other felines, there are some illnesses you can catch from your cat. These are called zoonotic diseases, and they can spread from animals to humans.
While the risk of catching some of these ailments from your cat is low, its still helpful to know which illnesses can pass from your cat to you and how to prevent the spread of these diseases.
While this is, by no means, a complete list of all the diseases and parasites that can pass from cats to humans, here are a few of the most common or most serious zoonotic diseases.
Everything You Need To Know About Worms In Cats
Written bySmall Door’s medical experts
Discovering your cat has worms can be shocking and upsetting. Whether theyre external or internal, these parasites can wreak havoc on your cats health. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, worms in cats can be effectively treated and eliminated.
In This Article
Can Cats Get Worms From Dogs
Yes, cats can pick up infected eggs from dog poop, as not all roundworms and hookworms are species-specific. Ancylostoma braziliense hookworm can affect both dogs and cats, as well as Toxascaris leonina roundworm.
Cats can also get tapeworms via the flea on dogs if they are living in an infested home or yard. If a flea from a dog jumps onto a cat and gets ingested, there is the potential for a tapeworm infestation to develop.
The most common types of worms in cats are:
There are also a number of less commonly diagnosed worms in cats that can cause serious health problems and can even be fatal, including:
Severe infestations of liver flukes may cause:
Swelling of the liver
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Can Toxocariasis Be Prevented
To help protect your kids from exposure to the eggs or larvae that cause toxocariasis:
- Take your pets to the veterinarian to be dewormed, especially puppies younger than 6 months old.
- Clean and disinfect your pet’s living area often and wash your hands well after.
- Everyone in the family should wash their hands well after playing with pets or other animals, after playing outside, and before touching or eating food.
- Teach young children not to put dirty hands in their mouth and not to eat dirt or soil.
- Keep kids away from areas with pet and animal poop.
- If you have a sandbox, keep pets away from it and cover it when it’s not in use.
- Wash, peel, or cook all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Summary Of Worms In Cats
There are many different types of worms that can infest cats, so be aware of the signs and symptoms. Immediate treatment will not only help prevent the infestation in your cat from becoming worse, but it will also help protect the other pets in your household. Discovering that your cat has worms may be disturbing, but with effective treatment from your vet, your cat will be worm-free before you know it!
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What Happens If Worms Go Untreated In Cats
Depending on the type and severity of infection, worm infestations that remain untreated can lead to serious health issues for your cat including malnutrition, severe anemia, and intestinal obstructions which can become life-threatening. This is why its always important to treat worm infestations as soon as possible.
What Are Worms In Cats
Worms are parasites that cats can get by accidentally eating their eggs.
There are two main types of intestinal worm your cat might get:
- tapeworm. These are very long, flat worms that attach themselves to the wall of the gut. Your cat may pass these worms in segments
- roundworm. These are the most common type of worm and look like white earthworms
Cats can also get another type of worm called lungworm, however this is not an intestinal worm. Read more about lungworm on our advice page.
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How Do You Worm A Cat Or Kitten
Deworming cats is simple as worming treatments are now available as liquids, pastes, granules and palatable worming tablets as well as liquid spot on formulations so you can choose the easiest one for your cat. Follow the on-pack instructions in full and stick to the advised schedule for your chosen product.
Because roundworms are so common in kittens it is vital to begin treatment from an early age. It is recommended that kittens are treated for roundworms every two weeks from two until eight weeks of age, then monthly until six months of age and every one to three months thereafter. Kittens only require tapeworm treatment if they also have fleas.
Adult cats should be treated every 1 to 3 months with a product which is effective against both roundworms and tapeworms.
Humans Can Also Get Diseases Transmitted From Cats
A disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans is known as a zoonotic disease. There are several external and internal cat parasites that are zoonotic, some of which can be more serious to humans than to their pets.
This is because humans are an abnormal host for feline parasites, so the parasites become lost and confused in a human body and do some unusual things when they cannot find their way to a target feline organ.
External parasites like fleas and mites can sometimes hop on to humans and cause a lot of itching of the skin, sometimes accompanied by a rash. However, these little critters only remain on humans for a short time.
While cats are not as commonly affected by ticks as dogs, both cats and humans are susceptible to attack by ticks. However, humans don’t catch ticks from cats but are more likely to be preyed upon by a hungry tick waiting in the environment, which leaps onto a passing human in search of a meal of blood. Ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
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Can Other Pets Catch Worms From My Cat
If you have other pets, such as another cat or a dog, then it is possible that they could get worms, too, if your cat has them. You should make sure you treat all animals in your house for worms regularly. Do not use dog worm treatments on cats and vice versa. Ask your vet for the correct treatment for each pet.
Echinococcosis: Serious Tapeworm Infection
Echinococcus granulosus has been found in the contiguous 48 states. In areas of the Southwest where dogs are used to herd sheep, the dog is the definitive host for the domestic strain of E granulosus, and sheep are the intermediate hosts. A sylvatic strain of E granulosus, which is found in the northern states, uses wolves and coyotes as definitive hosts and large wild ungulates such as moose as intermediate hosts.
The adult worms in dogs and other carnivores are very small with only three to four segments. When gravid proglottids are passed in the feces, they disintegrate, releasing eggs that are ingested by an intermediate host. Although sheep are the most common intermediate hosts, other species, including humans, can also serve as hosts. The eggs hatch in the intermediate host, and the hexacanth embryo penetrates the intestinal wall and travels through the body via the lymphatics or blood system.
The majority of the embryos lodge in the liver and produce slowly developing hydatid cysts. The hydatid cystwhich contains numerous protoscolices , brood capsules, and daughter cystsis a unilocular structure with a thick, laminated outer layer that is surrounded by a fibrous tissue capsule made by the host rather than the parasite. The definitive hosts, canids, are infected when they consume the protoscolices by predation or scavenging of intermediate hosts. When ingested by the canine host, each of the protoscolices has the ability to grow into an adult worm.
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Ask The Vet: Can I Get Worms From My Cat
This is a fairly common question we get asked here at Sunset, especially after we diagnose a cat with worms. This simple answer is yes, there are some parasites of cats that people can get from their cat. This is why it is very important to regularly check your cat for parasites during their wellness visits or if they are showing symptoms of parasitism. Below are some of the most common parasites that can be passed from cats to humans.
A Pharmacist Can Help With Threadworms
It is not usually necessary to see a doctor. Mebendazole is available from pharmacies to treat threadworms. This is usually a chewable tablet or liquid you swallow.
Everyone in the household should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.
Medicine kills the threadworms, but it does not kill the eggs. Eggs can live for up to 2 weeks outside the body.
Steps to avoid reinfection:
- wash hands and scrub under fingernails particularly before eating, after using the toilet or changing nappies
- encourage children to wash hands regularly
- bathe or shower every morning
- rinse toothbrushes before using them
- keep fingernails short
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Ringworm In Pets And Humans
Because of its name, many people think that ringworm is a type of worm, but in actuality, it is a fungal infection. It is distinguished by a reddish rash that usually has the shape of a ring. It is very contagious, and contact with a cat’s ringworm usually results in that person also developing ringworm. It can usually be treated with over-the-counter medication, and it should clear up within two to four weeks.
Which Worming Products To Use
There are many different worming products available on the market, and drug availability varies between different countries. While worming products may be available from pet shops and even some supermarkets, these are often old or less effective products and some are even less safe to use in cats.
It is always better to seek the advice of your vet, who will know what types of worms occur commonly where you live, and will be able to recommend the most effective and safest treatments for your cat. Additionally, some treatments are available which may be easier to administer, such as an injection that your vet can give, a tiny tablet that can go in with food, or even some drops that can be applied to the skin.
See also our information on how to give your cat a tablet.
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How Is Toxocariasis Treated
A child with mild symptoms might not need treatment because the infection will go away on its own when the larvae die. Kids with symptoms that affect the lungs, eye, or other important organs may be treated with anti-parasite drugs that will kill the larvae.
Doctors sometimes also give steroids to ease inflammation in the damaged organs. They also might refer a child to a specialist .
Benefits Of Pet Ownership
People can benefit from pet ownership in many ways. Here are a few:
- Jennings and colleagues at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Prahan, Victoria, Australia, report that people who own a pet have, on average, lower blood fat levels and lower blood pressure.1
- Children turn to companion animals for reassurance when they are feeling stressed.
- Contact with pets can alleviate symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study by the Philadelphia Devereux Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with special needs.2
1. Wilson CC, Turner DC : Companion Animals in Human Health. Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage Publications, 1997
2. Fine AH : Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice. San Diego, Academic Press, 1999
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How Do Humans Get Tapeworms
While it isnt especially common, a person can get a tapeworm if they accidentally consume a flea that is infected with worm larvae.
This can happen if you pet your cat and put your hand in your mouth afterward. Yes, you can get tapeworms from your cat.
You can avoid cat-to-person transmission by petting or touching your cats face. It is also important that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling any amount of cat feces, even with gloves.
Children are more likely to become infected with tapeworms, as they tend to be more careless with handling pet feces and with petting.
Can Humans Get Worms From Cats What You Need To Know
Just like with humans, there are a lot of diseases and medical issues that can affect a cats health. Those medical problems are most often the result of genetics or environmental factors.
One problem that comes from the environment and commonly affects cats is worms.
Worms arent a disease caused by a virus or bacteria, but rather a parasite. There are different species of worms, and while humans dont usually have to worry about their cat transmitting certain diseases to them, worms are one exception.
Not all types of worms that a cat has can affect humans. But there are certain types of worms that humans can get from cats, typically those that live in a cats intestines. In this article, well explain which types of worms commonly affect cats, which ones can affect humans, and how to treat your cat and yourself if you do become infected.
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How To Prevent Worm Infections
- wash your hands before eating or preparing food, and after touching soil or using the toilet
- only drink bottled or boiled water in high-risk areas
- de-worm pet dogs and cats regularly
- dispose of dog and cat poo in a bin as soon as possible
- thoroughly wash garden-grown fruit and vegetables
- let children play in areas where there’s a lot of dog or cat poo
- eat raw fruit and vegetables in high-risk areas
- walk barefoot in high-risk areas
- eat raw or undercooked pork, beef or freshwater fish
Treatment To Get Rid Of Worms
It does not matter which type of worm you have all worm infections are treated in a similar way.
You might be asked to provide a sample of poo so it can be tested for worm eggs.
If you have worms, a GP will prescribe medicine to kill them. You take this for 1 to 3 days. The people you live with may also need to be treated.
Any worms in your gut will eventually pass out in your poo. You may not notice this.
To avoid becoming infected again or infecting others, it’s very important during the weeks after starting treatment to wash your hands:
- after going to the toilet
- before eating or preparing food
- regularly during the day
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Can Your Pet Make You Sick
Zoonotic illnesses are diseases humans can get from animals. Many infectious diseases can spread from animals to people, and some of these can come from your pet. But before you become too alarmed, know that getting diseases from a pet is pretty uncommon, and that you can prevent most of them with some very simple steps. For example, teach children not to kiss pets or put their hands in their mouths after touching them. Frequent hand washing and regular vet checks are two other great ways to help prevent a wide range of diseases from pets. This includes diseases from dogs, diseases from cats, diseases from birds, or diseases from reptiles.
Can Humans Get Worms From Dogs And Cats
There are a number of intestinal parasites or worms that can infect dogs and cats, including roundworms,hookworms and tapeworms. One worm can produce up to 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pets feces and spread throughout the area where the pet roams. Once in your home, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years. The best way to prevent infection in pets is to control the flea population in the environment.
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Preventing Cat Worms Is Better Than Curing Them
Remember, preventing cat worms is better than having to treat them. Your cat should be regularly wormed to prevent them being infected. Follow advice from your vet to find the most suitable preventative method for your cat, and how often you should treat them.Kittens can have monthly preventative treatment against tapeworms from six weeks of age, and every three months from six months of age. Adults can have this treatment every two to six months. Your vet will be able to tell your more.Your cat may also contract worms by swallowing a flea, as some fleas may carry worms. For this reason, preventing against fleas is also important. Find out more about fleas in cats in our article.
How Do I Prevent My Cat From Getting Roundworms
Because roundworms can enter your cat’s body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your cat’s living area clean and, if possible, keep your cat indoors to prevent it from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms.
Kittens should be treated for roundworms every 2 weeks between three and nine weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 or 2 times each year in adults. Nursing mothers should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their kittens. A monthly parasite control product effective against roundworms is recommended to treat potential new infections. Many heartworm medications also control roundworms so ask your veterinarian about prevention and treatment choices.
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