The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a variety...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a variety of diseases humans can contract from animals. Credit: iStock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a variety of diseases humans can contract from animals. To keep yourself and your pets safe it's important to have routine veterinary check ups and wash your hands after playing or taking care of animals. 


Here are diseases and symptoms the CDC advises pet owners to be aware of: 


Campylobacteriosis: Bacteria 

Affects: Cats and dogs

How you get it: Contaminated food, water or contact with infected animal's stool

Symptoms in pets: Some may show no signs of illness; those who do may experience diarrhea or slight fever.

Symptoms in humans: Diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within 2 to 5 days after exposure to bacteria.

What you need to know: Infection can be life-threatening in infants, older individuals and people with weakened immune systems.


Cat-scratch disease: Bacteria 

Affects: Cats 

How you get it: Being bitten or scratched by an infected cat 

Symptoms in pets: Most animals infected show no signs of illness 

Symptoms in humans: If bitten or scratched, you may experience a mild infection at the site of the wound 3 to 14 days later. Some may experience fever, headache, poor appetite, exhaustion and later notice the lymph nodes closest to the wound have become swollen, tender or painful. 

What you need to know: According to the CDC, 40 percent of cats carry the bacteria in their lifetime. 


Cheyletiellosis: Short-term, mild skin inflammation caused by mites feeding on skin cells

Affects: Cats, rabbits  

How you get it: Spreads through contact with infested animals 

Symptoms in pets: Kittens may have patches of scaly skin with dandruff but older cats and rabbits with the disease may show no signs of infection. 

Symptoms in humans: Itching, redness and raised bumps on areas of skin that may have touched the infected animal. 

What you need to know: Disease generally resolves on its own.


Cryptosporidiosis: Parasitic disease 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Contaminated food or water from an infected animal or person. 

Symptoms in pets: Rare in cats and dogs but they can carry the germ with no signs. 

Symptoms in humans: Watery diarrhea with cramping, abdominal pain and nausea.

What you need to know: Infection usually lasts 2 to 4 days and can be more severe in individuals with weakened immune systems. 


Echinococcosis​: Parasitic disease 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Drinking or eating food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or contact with an infected animal. 

Symptoms in pets: Rarely show signs of illness; Animals become infected with the disease if they consume the tissue of an infected animal. 

Symptoms in humans:  Individuals only become aware when the slow-growing cysts begin to press on organs, most commonly in the liver and lungs. 

What you need to know: Symptoms may not show in humans for years 


Giardiasis: Parasitic disease 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Transmitted to animals and humans through contaminated food and water, causing diarrhea. 

Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea 

Symptoms in humans: Diarrhea, greasy stools, dehydration, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

What you need to know: Symtoms in humans can last 1 to 2 weeks. 


Hookworm: Intestinal parasite 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Through contaminated soil or sand. Humans can contract the infection by walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on the ground contaminated with the stool of infected animals.

Symptoms in pets: Dogs and cats can be infected if they accidentally ingest the parasite or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Puppies are often affected, and signs may include dark, bloody stool or anemia and in severe cases can lead to death.  

Symptoms in humans: Itchy reaction on the skin called cutaneous larva migrans. Those affected may witness a red squiggly line in the infected area where the larvae is present. 

What you need to know: The infection can last 4 to 6 weeks.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Bacteria 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Found on the skin of both animals and humans and those who carry the disease. 

Symptoms in pets: Fever, skin swelling

Symptoms in humans: Can range from mild to severe and cause a range of infections of the skin, respiratory tract and urinary tract. 

What you need to know: If left untreated can spread to the bloodstream and lungs, causing life-threatening infections. MRSA has become resistent to some antibiotics. 


Pasteurellosis: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Appears as a result of an animal bite or scratch, and the bacteria lives in the mouth of healthy cats and dogs. 

Symptoms in pets: Skin infections or absecesses where they were bitten or scratched by infected animals.

Symptoms in humans: Skin infections and painful wounds; Fifty percent of patients with Pasteurella get it as a result of an infected dog bite.  

What you need to know: In extreme cases, the disease can affect an individual’s nervous system. 


Plague: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Bite from an infected flea 

Symptoms in pets: Cats are highly susceptible to plague whereas dogs are unlikely to develop the clinical disease if infected. Infected cats can pass on the illness through bites, scratches, coughs and sneezes. 

Symptoms in humans: People come in contact with the disease through flea bites or contact with body fluids of infected animals. Bubonic is the most common form. Symptoms in humans include: high fever chills, headache, malaise, and swollen lymph nodes. 

What you need to know: Can lead to more serious illness or death in both animals or humans if not treated. 


Rabies: Neurologic disease   

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: People and animals usually contract the disease through bites from rabid animals. 

Symptoms in pets: Infected cats may experience behaviorial changes and appear restless, pant and attack other animals or people. Infected dogs may experience behavioral changes and progressive paralysis. 

Symptoms in humans: Generalized weakness, fever and headache within days. Humans may experience confusion, anxiety and behavioral changes. 

What you need to know: Symptoms in humans can appear days to months after being bitten and should contact a health care provider immedately if you feel the animal may have had rabies. Oftentimes when people begin to experience symptoms, it is almost too late for treatment.


Roundworm: Parasitic disease also known as toxocariasis 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Can affect people and animals when the roundworm egg is accidentally swallowed. 

Symptoms in pets: Disease can be passed on from dog to puppy through the placenta, milk or colostrum of the mother. Puppies infected with this particular disease may experience a pot-belly and may not develop or grow properly. Larval worms can pass through the milk of cats and spread the disease to kittens. Infected kittens may experience diarrhea, dehydration, rough coat and pot-bellied appearance. 

Symptoms in humans:  There are two forms of the disease: ocular larva migrans and visceral larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans can occur when larvae invades the retina causing inflammation, scarring, and possible blindness. Visceral larva migrans takes place when the larvae invades parts of the body such as the liver, lung or nervous system. 

What you need to know: Children are most often affected by roundworm.


SalmonellosisBacterial infection 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: Contaminated food or contact with stool of infected animals. 

Symptoms in pets: Cats can contract the disease through eating infected birds, and although it does not cause cats do become ill, the disease can seriously affect people if passed on. The infection has been linked to some brands of dry dog food, treats, and chew toys.

Symptoms in humans: Diarrhea, vomiting, fever or abdominal cramps 

What you need to know: People with weakened immune systems can develop more serious illnesses. 


Sarcoptic Mange: Parasitic skin disease 

Affects: Dogs 

How you get it: Highly contagious skin disease caused by sarcoptes scabiei mites and transmitted through close contact with animals with the disease.

Symptoms in pets: Bites from the mites can cause dogs to have severe itching and self-inflicted wounds from scratching. 

Symptoms in humans: If humans come in contact with infected dogs, they may experience a minor local reaction from the mites. 


Sporotrichosis​: Fungal disease 

Affects: Cats

How you get it: Caused by environmental cuts and scrapes or through contact with infected animals in the skin that can affect both animals and people.

Symptoms in pets: Signs can range from no symptoms to severe issues like small draining wounds and raised lumps. 

Symptoms in humans: Three forms of sporotrichosis that can affect humans are: Cutaneous, or skin form, is when small raised areas on the skin invade the lymph nodes and form nodules that may eventually ulcerate. Dissemination occurs when the infection begins to affect internal organs and bones. The pulmonary form occurs when a person inhales the fungus into their lungs, which can lead to chronic disease, similar to tuberculosis. 

What you need to know: Disseminated and pulmonary form are both potentially fatal. 


Toxoplasmosis​:  Parasitic disease 

Affects: Cats

How you get it: Contaminated soil, water, meat or contact with stool of infected cat. 

Symptoms in pets: Cats rarely have symptoms and are the main source of illness.

Symptoms in humans: Some individuals do not experience symptoms, but pregnant women and individuals with a weakened immune system who are infected may be at risk of serious health issues. 


Dog Tapeworm​: Parasitic disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Spreads to animals and humans through ingestion of infected fleas.  

Symptoms in pets: The parasite can be detected by finding rice-like pieces of the tapeworm near the anus or in fresh bowel movements; Weight loss and diarrhea 

Symptoms in humans: Children are most commonly affected by the parasite but don’t always show signs.

What you need to know: The most effective ways to prevent the infection in pets is to control the flea population in the area. 


Brucellosis: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Affects the ability to reproduce in animals. The disease is passed on to humans through contact with recently aborted tissue from infected animals or consumption of unpasteurized milk.  

Symptoms in pets: Dogs infected with the disease may experience decreased appetite, weight loss, behavioral changes, lack of energy, but most dogs with brucellosis show no signs of disease. Affects the reproductive organs and can cause early-term death in puppies. 

Symptoms in humans: Flu-like symptoms that can last 2 to 4 weeks. 

What you need to know: The disease can have long-term effects on humans and lead to chronic illness that can be difficult to treat. 


Capnocytophaga: Bacterial infection 

Affects: Cats and dogs 

How you get it: The bacteria lives in the mouths of dogs and cats and rarely spreads to humans but people can be exposed to the bacteria through bites, scratches or close contact with an infected animal. 

Symptoms in pets: Bacteria does not make cats and dogs sick 

Symptoms in humans: Most people who do have contact with these animals do not become sick. 

What you need to know: Individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of contracting the illness.


Ehrlichiosis: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Transmitted by ticks to animals and humans

Symptoms in pets: May show signs of depression, loss of stamina, stiffness, reluctance to walk, and coughing. 

Symptoms in humans: Fever, headache, chills, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and rash.


Leishmaniasis: Protozoan disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Transmitted by sandflies to people and animals. 

Symptoms in pets: Dogs can experience two forms of the disease -- visceral and cutaneous -- at the same time, involving a variety of symptoms. 

Symptoms in humans: The most common form in people is cutaneous, which causes painless ulcers on the skin. The less common form is the visceral form, which causes fever, weight loss, enlarged spleen and anemia. 

What you need to know: The disease is uncommon in North America.


Lyme disease: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Transmitted by ticks 

Symptoms in pets: Lameness, fever, reluctance to eat, lack of energy and enlarged lymph nodes, painful joints that are not swollen. 

Symptoms in humans: Red “bull’s eye” rash in the area of the tick bite that appears about 7 days after being bitten and if not treated can be spread to other parts of the body. 

What you need to know: People may experience flu-like symptoms quickly after being bitten and eventually experience symptoms such as arthritis and loss of facial muscle tone. Can be fatal.  


Leptospirosis: Bacterial disease 

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Transmitted through contaminated water, urine or bodily fluids of infected animal to humans and animals. 

Symptoms in pets: The early stages of this disease are hard to detect in animals and, if left untreated, can lead to kidney and liver failure.

Symptoms in humans: No signs of illness or people can experience nonspecific flu-like symptoms within 2 to 7 days of exposure.

What you need to know: Symptoms can resolve on their own but can reappear.  


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Bacterial disease

Affects: Dogs

How you get it: Transmitted to animals and humans through ticks. 

Symptoms in pets: Fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea and swelling of the face or extremities.

Symptoms in humans: Symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and may include fever, rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal and muscle pain. 

What you need to know: If left untreated, RMSF can become a more serious illness.