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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Sleeping with a pet can make you ill

25th January 2011

Pets may pass pathogens to their owners, including ones that cause life-threatening illnesses, according to a recent US study.

Study co-author Bruno Chomel, professor of zoonoses at the University of California at Davis, said that sleeping in bed with one's pets was not a good idea.

The researchers found that even healthy pets were home to viruses and parasites that could infect humans.

In the report, the researchers said that a man who was nearly 70 years old got meningitis when his pet dog licked a hip replacement wound while the two slept in the same bed.

A flea-infested cat also passed the plague, which is a potentially life-threatening illness, onto a nine year old child.

Parasites such as hookworm, ringworm, and roundworm can be passed from pets to humans.

All in all, the risk of getting deadly bacteria, a parasite, or a virus from one's pet is fairly low.

Chomel said that there was still a risk, however.

Peter Rabinowitz, a researcher at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said that the benefits of having pets far outweighed any possible negative consequences.

He said that people with weakened immune systems were at greater risk of getting an infection from an animal.

Kittens and puppies also presented a higher risk of passing on infections than did grown animals.

Rabinowitz said that he and his colleagues believed there were probably a lot of infections that came from pets and entered human families and populations without people noticing.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 60% of all human pathogens are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed from animals to humans and back.

Rabinowitz said that people could infect animals just as easily as animals could infect people.

Swine flu and bird flu have both received a lot of public attention, and the notion of animals and humans infecting each other is far less unusual now than it may have been 10 years ago.

Just last month, South Korea reported its first outbreak of bird flu since 2008.

More than 100,000 chickens and 10,000 birds were killed in an attempt to stem the progress of the virus.


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