Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > Staying Healthy Around Animals
When you spend time around an animal—whether it's a pet, a farm animal, or a wild animal—there's a chance you can pick up an infection.
An infection you get from an animal is called a zoonosis (say "zoh-uh-NOH-sus"). Some infections can seem mild, but others can be quite serious. So it's a good idea to learn about your risks and how to protect yourself and other people. People who are most in need of protection are children under age 5, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.
Washing your hands well may be all you need to do to prevent infection from some animals. But with others, you need to do more than simple hand washing.
You can get a zoonosis from a mammal, a reptile, an amphibian, or a bird. It could be a pet, an animal at a farm or a petting zoo, or a wild animal that passes infection on to you.
Zoonosis may be caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus, or by a parasite, such as a tapeworm.
It's not just touching an animal that can expose you to an infection. You can get infected when you:
Before you travel, learn about common animal-borne infection risks where you're going. Then learn how to protect yourself from them.
Keep your pet healthy
Wash and clean
Avoid contact when you can
To lower your risk of getting a disease from an animal:
Help children stay healthy around animals
Even pets that seem to be healthy can spread disease. Some infections you can get from pets include:
E. coli is a common infection that can cause a dangerous type of diarrhea. You can be infected by cattle on a farm or by sheep or goats in a petting zoo.
Serious but less common infections
When you're pregnant, be extra careful around animals, foods from animals, and animal waste. Wash your hands after you touch an animal or anything that could have been contaminated by an animal.
Protect your unborn baby from dangerous infections from animals or animal products. Stay clear of possible sources of lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) and toxoplasmosis.
Ask your doctor if there are any other local types of infection you should protect against during pregnancy.
To learn more about infections from animals, see the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/.
Current as ofJuly 30, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineLeslie A. Tengelsen, PhD, DVM - Epidemiology
Current as of:
July 30, 2018
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Leslie A. Tengelsen, PhD, DVM - Epidemiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.