What to Watch For
According to Gearhart, “the biggest concerns are roundworms migrating to children, toxoplasmosis infecting a fetus in the womb, and bartonellosis or cat-scratch fever, which we now know is actually transmitted by fleas.” Ringworm is also fairly common.
Some people are more vulnerable than others, according to J. Scott Weese, DVM, associate professor of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, in Canada. “Children under age 5, elderly people, pregnant women, anyone with compromised immune systems (including people who have had organ transplants).” If that means anyone in your household, tell your doctors about any pets. “Pets are part of the family microbiologically, as well as every other way,” he said. Young animals pose the greatest risk, because they are “far more likely to be infected with parasites or other diseases,” said Gearhart.
The issue is urgent for people with compromised immune systems. Gearhart said research found that “adult dogs and cats were deemed safe” for AIDS patients. “Birds and reptiles were not recommended; puppies and kittens were not recommended.”