Children love pets and they benefit from the companionship, relationships and affection that they share with their pets. However, pets can transmit harmful infections to humans. It is therefore important to know how to protect your child from these infections.
All animals have germs and bacteria. Some infections carried by animals cannot be transmitted to humans. But, humans can get animal-borne diseases when they are bitten or scratched by animals or come into contact with animal waste or saliva.
The most common household pets are cats and dogs. The most common infections carried over to humans by cats and dogs are cat scratch disease, rabies and ringworm.
Cat scratch disease is an infectious disease that results from being bitten or scratched by a cat. It is a bacterial disease and can range from mild to severe.
Signs and symptoms
- A blister or sore usually appears at the site of the scratch or bite within 3 – 10 days.
- Lymph glands nearby start to swell 2 weeks after the injury.
- There might also be fever, headache, tiredness and a loss of appetite present.
Diagnosis is usually based on a history of being bitten or scratched by a cat. Blood tests can confirm this.
Most people recover fully after 3 weeks, without any medication. People with severe infections are sometimes treated with antibiotics. Tenderness and swelling can be reduced by putting a warm pad on the affected area.
Complications and risk factors
The disease is transmitted from animals to humans but not from human to human. Cats that carry the bacteria do not appear sick. In rare cases of cat scratch disease, it can cause irreversible inflammation of the eye and seizures.
- Children should know not to provoke animals.
- Do not pick up or handle stray or strange cats.
- Thoroughly clean all wounds resulting from being scratched or bitten by a cat.