Dr Jane Heller, a veterinarian with the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga says, while the probability is usually very low, there is always some chance that bacteria or parasites will move from companion animals to humans and vice versa.
Dr Heller recently told ABC Health and Wellbeing’s Fact Buster
that those risks are likely to increase if “you are closely sharing the same environment as your animal”.
Dr Jane Heller has a PhD in companion animal zoonoses (an infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans) and holds a European specialist qualification in Veterinary Public Health.
The academic urges pet owners to practice common sense hygiene and to make sure pets and humans interact safely, taking particular care in those situations where bites or scratches could occur, such as during feed times.
“For the average person with a healthy immune system, the risk of getting sick from a pet is low, even if you share a bed with them and are exposed to a bacteria or parasite.
“However, the risk increases for people with compromised or reduced immune systems such as the very young, the very old, those with diseases such as HIV, those who are pregnant and those undergoing chemotherapy.”
Dr Heller told the ABC, “While it’s important not to overstate the risk of illness from your four-legged loved ones, with a few easy steps it should be possible to lower it even further”.
She recommends pet owners:
- Wash their hands after handling a pet and especially before handling food.
- Don’t share implements for human and animal food preparation.
- Remove any pet faeces from the home and garden quickly and hygienically.
- Maintain regular worming and flea control for their pets.
The full article on ABC Health and Wellbeing’s
Fact Buster can be found here
The School’s facilities in Wagga Wagg include the Veterinary Clinical Centre, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Equine Centre.
Dr Jane Heller is available for interview on Tuesday 27 September and Wednesday morning 28 September. Contact CSU Media.