Owners of non-traditional pets are at increased risk of zoonotic diseases

Contact with non-traditional pets increases the risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens, which are pathogens that spread between animals and humans. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examines the threat to pet owners and provides prevention recommendations in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal reading Vector-borne diseases and zoonoses.

“Advice on preventing zoonotic diseases caused by pathogens that spread between animals and humans is urgently needed,” says Kate Varela, DVM, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writing on behalf of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. in collaboration with and reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data shows that three major groups of animals have been associated with human zoonotic disease outbreaks in the United States: rodents, backyard poultry, and reptiles. This compendium presents information on these and other non-traditional pet species associated with a high risk of zoonotic disease transmission. Other animal species covered by the compendium include non-rodent mammals, such as hedgehogs and ferrets, amphibians and other aquatic species.

Pets can appear healthy while carrying zoonotic pathogens, putting pet owners and others at risk. In fact, most of the pathogens described in the compendium do not cause disease in the animal host. Zoonotic pathogens can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with animals.

The compendium lists common risk factors that lead to illnesses associated with non-traditional pet species. It provides a summary of identified outbreaks, case reports, and types of pathogens in the United States from 1996 to 2017. The compendium provides a comprehensive review of zoonotic pathogens in nontraditional pets. It provides recommendations to prevent the transmission of zoonotic pathogens.

This dedicated number Vector-borne diseases and zoonosespublished at a time of heightened public awareness of monkeypox, provides information on zoonotic pathogens associated with many species of non-traditional pets, and is a global resource for the pet industry, pet owners pets, veterinarians, doctors, researchers and many more.

Stephen Higgs, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Vector-borne diseases and zoonoses and Director, Biosecurity Research Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS


Journal reference:

Varela, K. et al. (2022) A review of zoonotic disease threats to pet owners: a compendium of measures to prevent zoonotic diseases associated with non-traditional pets: rodents and other small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, low- yard and other selected animals. Vector-borne diseases and zoonoses. doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2022.0022.