Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: Pocket pets

Classroom pets…Things to consider

Posted in Other animals
Having pets in school classrooms is a somewhat controversial subject. For every good point that’s raised (e.g. promoting empathy, entertainment, learning about animals and their care) there are bad points (e.g. poor environment for the pet, rough handing, disorganized or absent medical care, disease transmission, fear, allergies, distraction). Some organizations have developed detailed guidelines for… Continue Reading

MRSA transmission between hamster and human

Posted in Pocket pets
The more we look, the more we find when it comes to MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). As people start looking for it in different animal species, it’s often found. We’ve found it in many species already, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, walruses, dolphins and alpacas, so it’s not a big surprise to see a recent… Continue Reading

Dumb Easter decisions

Posted in Other animals
Easter is one of those holidays when there are concerns about dumb pet purchases. Spur-of-the-moment purchases of inappropriate pets can lead to animal suffering and death, and risk of human infection. Easter’s problems: baby chicks and rabbits. Rabbits can make great pets. They’re a long-term commitment, but they’re relatively low maintenance, a lot is known… Continue Reading

Pediatrician says kids shouldn’t have rats

Posted in Pocket pets
A Montreal pediatrics resident has expressed concern about rat bite fever in kids. Dr. Karine Khatchadourian described three cases of this bacterial infection in a paper called “The rise of the rats: a growing paediatric issue,” published last year in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health. The article didn’t really present any evidence that this… Continue Reading

Pets in the Classroom Program

Posted in Other animals
A recent press release from The Pet Care Trust reported on the status of its Pets in the Classroom program, which provides support to teachers to have pets in school classrooms. On the surface, it seems like a fine concept, helping to enrich school activities. However, it’s one of those ideas that can do a… Continue Reading

Cowpox in a dog

Posted in Dogs
Cowpox virus is an example of a virus with a misleading name. It’s place in history is from Jenner’s observation that milkmaids who had been infected with cowpox were resistant to smallpox, leading to the use of cowpox (which causes very mild disease) to protect against smallpox (which is very, very bad). While cattle can… Continue Reading

Chinchillas and Giardia

Posted in Other animals
One concern with uncommon pets is our relatively poor understanding of the infectious agents they may carry. For our "established" pet species, we have a reasonable understanding of what bugs tend to be present and which animals may be at higher risk. The less common the pet, the less research tends to be available, making… Continue Reading

Ringworm at the OSPCA

Posted in Other diseases
Never a dull moment… This morning the Toronto Star published an article about the intended euthanasia of 350 animals at a humane society in Newmarket due to an ongoing ringworm outbreak.  This was quickly followed by another article about the same event that gave a few more details, including some comments from the OSPCA chief… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever leads to pet store lawsuit

Posted in Pocket pets
A Phoenix, Arizona man is suing a pet store after he contracted rat bite fever from a rat he had purchased. It’s not surprising to see a lawsuit following a serious illness, considering people in the US often try to sue for just about anything, but I’m not sure it won’t get very far. I don’t… Continue Reading

Watch out for rabbit pee

Posted in Other animals
Urine from healthy animals is typically considered to be of little to no risk to people. This is generally true, at least for the otherwise healthy human population, but like with most things in infectious diseases, there are exceptions. An interesting one in rabbits is a bug called Encephalitozoon cuniculi. This microorganism (now classified as… Continue Reading

Internet exotic pet dealer horrors

Posted in Other animals
.A public health expert has recommended that an exotic animal dealer’s facility be demolished or "completely gutted and sterilized" because it is so contaminated with animal feces and vomit, as well as roach infested and swarming with uncaged animals. No evidence of infection control was present in the facility that "reeked of death and decay… Continue Reading

G-force and zoonotic disease

Posted in Pocket pets, Salmonella
It seems like whenever a hit TV show or movie features an animal, there’s concern about the "101 Dalmatians effect," whereby there’s a mad rush to get the animal for a pet. When 101 Dalmatians was a hit movie, there was a huge spike in sales of this rather unusual breed – a breed which… Continue Reading

Rabid rat attack

Posted in Pocket pets, Rabies
Cab drivers have to put up with a lot of risks, but attacks from marauding rats probably aren’t high on their list of concerns. However, a Ukrainian cab driver was recently attacked by a rat, and the rat was subsequently killed and found to be positive for rabies. The cab driver is now undergoing post-exposure… Continue Reading

Weil’s disease from a pet rat

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
A recent edition of the Veterinary Record contains a case report of Weil’s disease in a person that adopted a feral (wild) rat (Strugnell et al, 2009). Weil’s disease is a severe disease of the kidneys, liver and other body systems that can develop after acute leptospirosis (infection by Leptospira bacteria). This group of bacteria… Continue Reading

Cowpox from rats

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
Cowpox is a disease caused by cowpox virus. This virus is most famous for being used by Edward Jenner to vaccinate people against smallpox (which is caused by a related virus). However, despite the name, rodents are the natural host of cowpox virus, not cows. Most human cases of cowpox are associated with contact with… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
Rats can be really interesting pets. They can be quite social and are interesting to watch. Being larger than hamsters and gerbils, they can also be more easily and safely handled. They can still bite, however, particularly if they are not properly socialized and/or they are handled by people who don’t know how to do… Continue Reading

Testing for ringworm with toothbrushes

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Other animals, Other diseases, Pocket pets
If your veterinarian suspects your pet may have ringworm, there are several different ways he or she may test for the causative fungus (a dermatophyte) on your animal’s fur and skin.  Some of these techniques are more useful than others in different situations. Wood’s lamp:  A Wood’s lamp is simply a special ultraviolet light.  Approximately… Continue Reading

Nontraditional Pets and Children: Beware

Posted in Birds, Other animals, Pocket pets, Reptiles, Salmonella
A report about the health risks in children associated with nontraditional pets was recently published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report also discusses diseases associated with animals in public settings such as petting zoos and pet stores.  Although contact with pets and animals can be beneficial to growth… Continue Reading

Ringworm Part 2: Cleaning Up

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Pocket pets
For more information on ringworm, see the Worms & Germs post Ringworm: Skin fungus by any other name.  The photos here show ringworm lesions on a person’s arm and on a cat’s face, respectively.  (Photo credits: A. Yu, Ontario Veterinary College) Over the past several years, studies have shown that many environmental disinfectants sold and… Continue Reading

Ringworm: skin fungus by any other name

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Pocket pets
Ringworm infection is not caused by a worm at all – it’s actually a skin infection caused by certain kinds of fungus called dermatophytes. The scientific name for ringworm is dermatophytosis, or dermatomycosis. Some of the more common zoonotic species of dermatophytes found in animals include Microsporum canis, Trichophyton verrucosum, T. equinum, and T. mentagrophytes.… Continue Reading

Your mother was right! Wash your hands

Posted in Birds, Cats, Clostridium difficile, Dogs, Horses, MRSA/MRSP, Other animals, Other diseases, Parasites, Pocket pets, Reptiles, Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis
You may notice a recurring theme in many of our posts and on virtually all of the information sheets on the Worms & Germs Resources page: an emphasis on handwashing. There is increasing emphasis on hand hygiene (i.e. hand washing and use of alcohol hand sanitizers) education in hospitals because the hands of healthcare workers… Continue Reading

Happy Household Hamsters

Posted in Pocket pets
The right kind of pet can be an invaluable source of learning experiences for a child. But there’s always the question of what is the right kind of pet for a child, a family and a household? A dog or a cat is not ideal for everyone. Sometimes a small pet, such as a hamster,… Continue Reading