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Zoonoses from pets other than dogs and cats

Camille N Kotton, MD
Section Editor
Daniel J Sexton, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH


Pets serve valuable social roles in society [1,2]. Pets may lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve feelings of loneliness, while increasing opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization [1,3].

Despite these benefits, pets present zoonotic risks, especially for immunocompromised hosts [4-7]. In addition to infection from pets, there have been multiple outbreaks of enteric disease associated with animal exposure in public settings, such as county fairs, farms, and petting zoos [8]. In a review of 55 such outbreaks, most were due to Escherichia coli O157 (58 percent) and Salmonella species (22 percent) [9]. (See "Microbiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, and prevention of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC)", section on 'Animal contact'.)

The epidemiology of zoonoses from pets other than dogs and cats will be reviewed here. The epidemiology of dog- and cat-related zoonoses is presented separately and the clinical management of specific zoonotic diseases is discussed in the appropriate topic reviews. (See "Zoonoses from dogs" and "Zoonoses from cats".)


A zoonosis is an animal disease that is transmissible to humans. Humans are usually an accidental host that acquires disease through close contact with an infected animal, who may or may not be symptomatic.


The American Veterinary Medical Association's 2005 to 2006 survey of United States pet owners found that 63 percent of all United States households have at least one pet (www.avma.org). The most common route of infection related to pet contact, is through bites, especially in children. (See "Soft tissue infections due to dog and cat bites".)


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