Other Animal-Related Illnesses

Animals can be a very important part of our lives and pets can have many health benefits.  While disease transmission between animals and people can occur, in most cases, basic infection control methods can be used to prevent disease spread.  Illnesses might be spread in various ways such as by direct contact with an animal or breathing in a germ that an animal is infected with.  While both people and animals can become ill from germs carried by certain vectors like mosquitoes and ticks, people cannot become infected with these diseases through contact with an animal with a vectorborne disease.  For more information about Vectorborne Diseases

For more information about infections that animals might transmit to people, visit the information found on the Fact Sheet, Data and Resources pages below.

cat scratching wall

B-virus is a disease caused by a virus called Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1. It is a disease of non-human primates of the genus Macaca (macaque monkeys) that can also affect people. People who handle infected macaques may be exposed to and become ill from B-virus. The virus can be found in the secretions and tissues of infected primates. Infected primates may appear healthy.

For more information B-virus

Cat scratch disease (CSD) is bacterial disease caused by Bartonella henselae. Cats are the main reservoir of this organism. Anyone bitten, scratched, licked or exposed to an infectious cat or kitten is susceptible to the disease. Any domestic cat has the potential to be a reservoir for this disease. Infectious cats usually appear healthy. Fleas and ticks that infest cats may be infected as well.

For more information Cat Scratch Disease

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva.  Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in the virus that is on dust and other debris floating in the air.  HPS was first recognized in the southwest United States in 1993 and has since been identified throughout the United States.  One case has been identified in Virginia.  In 1993, a hiker on the Appalachian trail developed HPS.

For more information Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) is a disease caused by the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). The virus may be found in about 5% of wild mice throughout the United States. The virus can also infect pet rodents (such as mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc.). LCM is very rare in humans in the United States. People who have unprotected contact with rodents or their waste/bedding (e.g., owners of pet rodents, laboratory workers who handle infected animals, etc.) are at higher risk of infection. Virus is present in the blood and tissues of infected people; therefore, organ donation recipients have been infected if the donor was carrying the virus. People who have weakened immune systems (e.g., HIV-positive persons, organ-transplant recipients, etc.) are at higher risk of severe disease if infected.

For more information Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is commonly found in nasal passages and skin of humans and multiple animals. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics and in some cases to other antibiotics. Although MRSA is primarily found in people, animals can also be infected. MRSA has been recovered from animals including horses, dogs, cats, cows, and  pigs. Some of these animals have not been exposed to antibiotic therapy and in several of these cases the MRSA infection appears to result from human-to-animal transfer.

For more information Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in Pets

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same group of viruses as smallpox.  Monkeypox virus was first found in laboratory monkeys in 1958.  It has also been found in different kinds of African rodents. The first human cases of monkeypox in the United States occurred in the mid-west in 2003.  Before 2003, the only human cases of monkeypox occurred in central and West Africa.

For more information Monkeypox

Plague is a disease caused by Yersinia pestis that affects rodents (e.g., squirrels, prairie dogs, or mice), other mammals (e.g., rabbits or hares), and humans. These bacteria are found in many areas of the world, including the United States. There are three forms of plague: bubonic, pneumonic (lung infection) and septicemic (bloodstream infection). Plague is rare in the United States, with an average of 7 human plague cases reported each year (range: 1–17 cases per year) in recent decades. Cases in the U.S. generally occur in rural and semi-rural areas in the west and southwest. Worldwide, about 1,000 to 2,000 cases of plague are reported every year.

For more information Plague

Psittacosis is a disease that is caused by the bacteria, Chlamyda psittaci, and is often associated with psittacine (i.e., parrot type) birds kept as pets; however, this bacteria can also infect poultry and non-psittacine birds like doves and pigeons. Most human infections have been reported as having been related to exposure to pet psittacine birds, like parakeets.  Human illness with psittacosis has also been documented from exposure to poultry and free-ranging birds including doves, pigeons, birds of prey and shore birds.

For more information see Psittacosis Fact Sheet or the Psittacosis Compendium and Attachments

Q fever is a disease caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii. The disease can occur in two forms: acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). Q fever has been reported from most parts of the world. However, this disease is rare in the U.S., with fewer than 175 cases reported per year during 2005-2013. A total of 21 cases were reported in Virginia during 2005-2013.

Sheep, cattle and goats sometimes carry C. burnetii. It may rarely be carried by cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, rodents and ticks. The organism can survive for long periods in the environment (e.g., in dust, wool, straw, fertilizer, etc.).

For more information Q Fever

Rat-bite fever (RBF) is bacterial disease caused by Actinobacillus muris and Spririllum minus. In the United States, rat-bite fever is primarily due to infection with A. muris. Rats are the main reservoir of these organisms. People exposed to infectious rat secretions may become ill. Direct contact with a rat is not necessary. RBF is rare in the United States, however, since it is not a notifiable disease, exact numbers of cases are not known.

For more information Rat-bite Fever

Ringworm is a contagious fungus infection that can affect the scalp, the body (particularly the groin), the feet, and the nails. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person's skin. Ringworm is also called “dermatophytosis” and “tinea”. Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but it may affect people of all ages, as well as animals. Anyone who is exposed to an infected person, animal, or spores within the environment is at risk of becoming infected.

For more information Ringworm