Bacterial Zoonotic Infections

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  • 0:01 Microorganisms
  • 0:40 Cat Scratch Disease &…
  • 2:06 Lyme & Leptospirosis
  • 3:57 MRSA & the Plague
  • 6:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over some of the bacterial zoonotic infections and diseases you can get from your pets, including cat scratch disease, salmonellosis, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, MRSA, and the plague!

Microorganisms

What should you be scared of most in your life? Bad weather? Bad people? Or bad microscopic bugs?

We tend to be afraid of what we can see with our eyes, but the things we can't see are more often than not far more evil, insidious, and life-threatening to us. Welcome to the world of microorganisms, which are microscopic living organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This lesson will focus on only some of the bacteria that cause zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that are passed from animals to humans directly or indirectly.

Cat Scratch Disease & Salmonellosis

Be nice to your cat. Make sure it purrs, not bites or scratches. Otherwise, you might get cat scratch disease/fever (bartonellosis), a bacterial disease caused by Bartonella henselae. This bacterium is passed on when an infected cat, especially a kitten, bites or scratches you. If you get infected, you can expect swollen lymph nodes, especially in the upper part of your body, fatigue, and headache and it may take months for you to recover.

To reduce your risk of getting this zoonotic disease, make sure to avoid rough play with your feline friends, keep cats indoors, and control their fleas, since these parasitic blood suckers contribute to this disease as well. If that wasn't bad enough, both your dogs and cats might also give you some good old salmonellosis, a condition caused by the bacteria Salmonella. You can expect many runs to the toilet when you've got the runs, a fever, and stomach pain.

To avoid getting this from your pets, make sure to always follow proper hygiene after handling pets or their feces (since this is where these bacteria are found). Be careful to clean all pet areas and supplies (like dishes) on a regular basis, always take your pets to the veterinarian if they have any diarrhea, vomiting, or decreased appetite, and do not feed them any raw meat or wild animals.

Lyme and Leptospirosis

Speaking of wild things, if you or your pet are big nature fans, always protect yourself and your pets against ticks. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

Lyme disease causes the famous bull's eye rash, alongside some very unwelcome joint and muscle pain. Similar things occur in your dog; but note that just because you don't see a bull's eye rash on you or your dog, that doesn't mean you or they don't have Lyme disease.

If you've been bitten by a tick, talk to your doctor. If your pet has been, talk to a veterinarian. Lyme disease can cause serious lifelong consequences for you and your dog if not taken care of.

There is no evidence that a pet cat can transmit Lyme disease to a human directly, but they can bring home ticks that can. Hence the importance of regular tick prevention in your dogs and cats and checking yourself to make sure the ticks don't move from your pet onto you! While all the diseases we went over are bad enough, I'm saving the three worst bacterial diseases you can get from your cat or dog for last.

The first is called leptospirosis, a bacterial disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. It's a terrible little bug. It's spread through contaminated fluids, namely urine, and can cause kidney failure in both people and animals. To help prevent the spread of this disease and protect yourself from contracting it from your dog, ensure your dog is vaccinated against leptospirosis.

The vaccine protects against many, but not all, forms of the bacteria that cause this disease. Wild animals can spread this bacteria as well, so avoid contact with any fluid contaminated with animal urine.

MRSA and the Plague

And now for the last two bugs in this lesson. One is called MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. That is a mouthful. All it is really saying is that a kind of bacterium, called Staphylococcus aureus, is resistant to many antibiotics, which are drugs that kill bacteria. This is bad, very bad. It's like saying that some country in this world is immune to nuclear weapons. Good for them, bad for everyone else.

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