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While pets are usually considered good for our health (mainly as stress relievers), there is the possibility that they could actually be causing us harm. Pets can transmit diseases to people, and a recent review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discusses how doctors are not always doing a good job of asking about pets in the home in relation to human's health issues.
As reported by NPR.org, the review's lead author Jason Stull says that "there hasn't been a great dialogue between the veterinary community, the human health community and the public" regarding the diseases that pets can spread to people.
For example, dogs and cats can transmit bacteria that causes intestinal problems, as well as parasites that cause diarrheal disease, and amphibians, reptiles, rodents and young poultry can spread salmonella. Those at high risk of catching any bugs from their pets include children under age 5, pregnant women, older people and anyone with a weakened immune system due to things like chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants.
"People don't even think of their pets as a possible source of disease," Stull said. He suggests that people be sure to wash their hands after handling animals to reduce the risk of catching anything. "We're not saying get rid of pets. We're not saying stop getting pets. We're just saying make good choices."