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Cats + Zoonosis & Human Health

  • Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm species that is found in the Northern Hemisphere. Dogs, cats, and humans are all susceptible to E. multilocularis infection, along with additional species. While the parasite typically produces no clinical sign in cats, it can have life-threatening effects in humans. E. multilocularis is impossible to distinguish from other tapeworm species without specialized testing, but it responds to the same dewormers that are used to treat other tapeworm species. Therefore, pets suspected of having tapeworms should be treated promptly and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with animal feces.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of man and animals cased by a microscopic protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis. Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a "worm", bacteria, or virus. Giardiasis can be an important cause of diarrhea in animals and humans. However, many cats are infected without developing clinical signs or the diarrhea is treated as 'non-specific'.

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. It is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats and is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. The typical symptoms of FVR involve the nose, throat, and eyes, and include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, excessive blinking, squinting, and discharges from the eyes and nose that range from clear and watery to thick and purulent (containing yellow/green pus). Treatment consists of supportive care, hydration of the environment, and control of secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics and antibiotic eye medications. An effective vaccine exists and is recommended for all cats.

  • Hookworm is a parasitic infection of the gastrointestinal tract of cats. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. How the infection is spread along with clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are covered in this handout.

  • Vaccinations are important to prevent serious illness in cats. Even cats that spend 100% of their time indoors should be vaccinated. Some viruses can be carried into your home on inanimate objects such as shoes and clothing, therefore infecting your cat without her coming into contact with another animal. Rabies is deadly for both cats and humans and can be transmitted by a rabid bat that makes its way into your home. Your veterinarian is your most important resource in determining what vaccinations need to be given to your cat to keep her protected.

  • This handout outlines common internal parasites in cats. Included are parasites of the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms), as well as parasites of the circulatory system (heartworms). How each of these parasites can affect your cat and what you can do to prevent or treat infection are explained.

  • The Ebola virus is very contagious and is transmitted through blood, body fluids and tissues, but not through air, water, or food. Ebola affects humans, non-human primates, and is carried by fruit bats. Other species do not appear to be affected although there has been evidence of exposure to the disease in dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. Domestic animals are not believed to transmit the virus; however, there is a risk that they could transmit body fluids such as saliva on their fur to other humans. Any potential exposure to Ebola should be reported to your veterinarian who will contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

  • COVID-19 is a human respiratory disease that was initially discovered late in 2019. This disease is caused by a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that has not previously been identified in humans. Physical distancing, or social distancing, is one of the most effective strategies available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While physical distancing, walking your dog is fine as long as you are feeling well and can remain at least 6 feet away from other people. If you have cats, find new ways to play with them indoors. Many veterinary clinics are adjusting their policies to reflect physical distancing guidance related to COVID-19. If your pet needs veterinary care (or if you need to pick up medication, a prescription diet, etc.), call your veterinary hospital first to determine how to proceed.

  • Pyrantel pamoate is given by mouth and is used on and off label to treat intestinal parasites in many species. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include stomach upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it. If a negative reaction occurs, call your veterinarian.

  • Rabies is a viral disease that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including cats and people, although some species are somewhat naturally resistant to the disease. When signs of rabies occur, it is an almost invariably fatal disease.