In rare cases, a dog’s lick can carry more than just love - the risk of infection from pets

In rare cases, a dog’s lick can carry more than just love - the risk of infection from pets

Zoonoses are infectious diseases of animals (usually vertebrates) that can naturally be transmitted to humans. Of the 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans, 61% were zoonotic:

Merck Veterinary Manual listing:

Seventy-five per cent of new human diseases are zoonotic according to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

'It’s possible – but rare – for close contact with the family pooch to transmit bacteria that can cause dangerous blood poisoning, according to a new case study published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Case Reports.


“Crucially, the message is not to scare people away from being close to their dogs. The message is more directed at hospital doctors to think about animal transmitted infections generally, when a patient – particularly with immune dysfunction – presents with sepsis.”

Wilson said more caution should be taken with very young children, particularly in the first months when the immune system is still developing. Care should also be taken with immunosuppression, such as people with no spleen, those with liver and alcohol problems or people undergoing chemotherapy. '

From an interview by The Conservation with Vincent Ho, Lecturer and clinical academic gastroenterologist, Western Sydney University and James P Wilson, Researcher, Department of Medicine for the Elderly, UCL

Given our CLL caused immune dysfunction, do exercise a bit more caution when in contact with animals, even much loved family pets. Consider them another potential vector for infections, just as you would a potentially infectious visitor. If you clean up after them, make sure you take adequate precautions, such as wearing gloves and perhaps a face mask and always wash your hands well after being in contact with them.


Photo: A kelpie sheep dog's favourite way of cooling down - using a water trough! Presumably the sheep and cattle don't mind...

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12 Replies

  • Somewhere I believe I read that cats are also a big problem..

    Dry cat litter dust being rather toxic for those with a poor immune system like us.


  • That would be due to Toxoplasmosis.

    '...felids such as domestic cats are the only known definitive hosts in which the parasite can undergo sexual reproduction.


    Toxoplasmosis has recently been associated with numerous subtle adverse or pathological behavioral alterations in humans.


    ...serological studies estimate that 30–50% of the global population has been exposed to and may be chronically infected with T. gondii


    In infants, HIV/AIDS patients, and others with weakened immunity, infection can cause a serious and occasionally fatal illness, toxoplasmosis.'


  • As an Australian, please tell us that at least keeping a budgerigar is safe for us..!!!


  • Sorry, but I can't :( ; 'Psittacosis, sometimes known as ornithosis, is a highly infectious disease of birds, mainly affecting the parrot family but waterfowl and other species are sometimes affected. Humans and domestic pets such as dogs can also be affected. The cause is an organism called Chlamydia which is neither a bacteria nor a virus.


    The symptoms of psittacosis are very varied, from sudden death of an apparently healthy bird to a bird with slight nasal discharge and nothing else. Carrier birds show no symptoms at all.' (My emphasis)

    From the Budgerigar Council of Victoria Inc.:

    Budgerigars are members of the parrot family.

    From the Merck Veterinary Manual referenced above

    'Among poultry, turkeys, ducks, and pigeons are most often affected.. The disease is a significant cause of economic loss and human exposure in many parts of the world.


    Avian serotypes are capable of infecting people and other mammals.'

    Did you really think an animal from Australia would be safe? :)


  • What about kissing my wife ??

  • On the other hand a girl here in Santa Paula, for her science fair project, compared the germs in her dog's mouth and her little brother's. Little brother had more germs. Don't know how spouses would come out. Keeping my pets.

  • Here is a good article about cats...

    Everytime I post this I get hate emails, so I have given up on this topic... however it is an increased risk with an immunocompromised system...

    Watch out for bat and bird droppings...almost killed a CLL friend a number of years ago...

    Histoplasma capsulatum...

    The term is Zoonosis...


  • Guess I have been lucky because I don't exercise any caution with my dog at all. She is my therapy, and gets me through all the emotions associated with this disease. Gracie is with me 24/7, so, for me, this is where I throw caution to the wind! 😳

  • Probably not luck so much but the fact that you've already developed immunity to any infections your dog may be harbouring while your CLL wasn't impacting your immunity overly.

    I think the take home message from this post is that we need to consider our pets as just another vector for infections - the same as a visiting friend or family member that has become ill.

    We also need to remember that people's immunity decreases as they get older in any case. That means that with the additional impact on our immunity from our CLL, we need to be a bit more vigilant, particularly after our pets have mixed with other people's pets.


  • There is also the fact that the dogs I am around have a yard where they love to dig up moles and catch chipmunks and eat them. So, potty mouth is a term I use for them.

    Who knows what those animals may carry.

  • I hope this will be a pinned article. I am in contact with dogs on a daily basis and will not stop that, but will be aware of face licking--there are family dogs that get right in your face and seem to aim for the mouth. I have been a bit cautious, will now be more so. thanks.

  • Should have kept that pet rock from the 70's.

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