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Cats and Zoonotic Parasites

Overgaauw, P. A., L. van Zutphen, et al. (2009). “Zoonotic parasites in fecal samples and fur from dogs and cats in The Netherlands.” Vet Parasitol 163(1-2): 115-122.

All pet owners need to be aware of the risks of zoonotic pathogens – diseases which can be shared by animals and people. The purpose of this study from the Netherlands was to determine if healthy cats and dogs harbor zoonotic parasite infections, and to evaluate interactions between pets and owners. Both fecal and hair samples were collected from healthy cats and dogs in Dutch veterinary clinics, representing 159 households. Information and samples were collected on 152 dogs and 60 cats. Toxocara (roundworm) eggs were found in 4.6% of the cat fecal samples and in 3.4% of the cat fur samples. However, none of the eggs found in fur were viable. Giardia was isolated from 13.6% of the cat fecal samples and Cryptosporidium was isolated from 4.6% of the cat samples. In evaluating interactions between owners and pets, 50% of owners said they allowed the pet to lick their face, 60% of pets visited the bedroom, 60% of cats are allowed to sleep on the bed, and 30% of cats sleep with the owner in bed. Other interesting findings were that 45% of cats were allowed to jump into the kitchen sink, and 8% of cat owners always washed their hands after contact with their pet. The researchers conclude that close physical contact between owners and cats is common, and must be recognized as a risk factor for transmission of zoonotic pathogens. Owners should be informed about hygiene and risks of disease transmission. [SL]
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Related articles:
Palmer, C. S., I. D. Robertson, et al. (2009). “Intestinal parasites of dogs and cats in Australia: The veterinarian’s perspective and pet owner awareness.” Vet J.
>> PubMed Abstract

Stull, J. W., A. P. Carr, et al. (2007). “Small animal deworming protocols, client education, and veterinarian perception of zoonotic parasites in western Canada.” Can Vet J 48(3): 269-76.
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