Pet owners who value their pets as family members are not real happy with the findings in a research paper released in the February 2011 issue of The Journal of the Centers for Disease Control Emerging Infectious Diseases. According to the article titled “Zoonoses in the Bedroom”, written by Bruno B. Chomel, DVM, PhD; and Ben Sun, DVM, MPVM, it is possible that sleeping with pets may carry some serious health risks.
Being medical-terminology challenged, I had to look up “Zoonoses” so I can tell you the medical definition is “a disease communicable from animals to humans under natural conditions.” So that helps with a fundamental understanding of the big problem and all the news coverage.
In the United States, 60% of households have pets. According to a survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The survey found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners. Women were more likely than men to allow the dogs in bed (25% to 16%) according to a press release on January 30, 2006 by AKC. We are a pet loving society!
Healthy pets can carry bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms that can make us sick, as most pet owners know. Chomel and Sun surveyed some fairly extreme cases, including a 9 year-old boy who contracted the plague from fleas infesting his cat and a man who allowed his dog to lick a surgical wound from a hip replacement, and as a result contracted meningitis.
To say pet owners are unhappy is an understatement! Why all the news coverage? It’s not like we don’t have common sense. We know to help prevent getting infected by a pet it is essential to observe good hygiene and prudent animal care. We use safe veterinarian prescribed flea control products to prevent flea borne diseases. And we know to use extra precautions handling pets around the very young, the elderly and the immune-compromised.
As for me and my household, we will exercise common sense and continue to cuddle with our furry companion.