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Cats + Zoonosis & Human Health

  • Rabies is a viral disease that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including cats and people, although some species are somewhat naturally resistant to the disease. When signs of rabies occur, it is an almost invariably fatal disease.

  • Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. They can be an important cause of illness, even death, in kittens. As their name implies, these are large-bodied round worms, averaging about 3-6 inches (8-15 cm) in length. They do not attach to the wall of the intestine, as some intestinal parasites do. Instead, they are literally "swimming" freely within the intestine.

  • Swine Influenza or swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease of pigs, caused by a type A influenza virus. Type A influenza viruses can affect a range of other animals and humans. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change or mutate constantly. Swine flu is commonly seen in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe.

  • Tapeworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. They are classified as cestodes. They belong to a different family than hookworms and roundworms, which are the other common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect cats. Dipylidium caninum is by far the most common species observed in cats.

  • When a cat bites, its sharp canine teeth easily puncture the skin, leaving small, but deep, wounds in the skin. These punctures rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria from the cat's mouth under the skin of the victim, where they can readily multiply.

  • This handout will review some of the common health concerns that arise for people who have cats as pets. For further information, be sure to ask your veterinary health care provider.

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