Pet ownership is an extremely common phenomenon worldwide, with a tradition that dates back 15,000 years or more. In the US, cats and dogs are found in the majority (70%) of all households. Yet with the many physical and emotional benefits of feline and canine ownership comes the potential for transmission of many infectious disease pathogens. Pet-associated zoonoses can include skin and soft tissue syndromes secondary to bites, scratches, and other direct contact, septicemia from contamination of intravascular and other indwelling medical hardware, parasitic syndromes, gastroenteritis, viral pathogens, and other zoonoses. An emerging pathogen among dogs and cats is community-acquired strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Clinicians must increase their recognition of the infectious complications of pet ownership, promote awareness among their patients, and encourage preventative strategies in pet owners.
From the USF College of Medicine, Tampa, FL.
Reprints: Richard L. Oehler, MD, FACP, James A Haley Veterans Hospital, 13,000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd #111J, Tampa, FL 33611. E-mail: Richard.Oehler@va.gov.