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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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New CDC Web Site for Animal/Human Health Risks

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter May/June 2003 Volume XVIII, No 3

The following article is used with permission, and provides information about human health risks related to animals. Veterinarians may wish to duplicate this article and provide copies to their interested clients. As always, material that appears in the FDA Veterinarian is free of copyright and may be reproduced without permission.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Con-trol and Prevention (CDC) has created a web site to provide people with information about the health-related risks of owning and caring for animals. Links are located throughout the web site for general information about companion and wild animals and the diseases they could carry. The web site offers important information about safe practices for handling domestic animals and avoiding wild ones. The Healthy Pets, Healthy People web site is online at www.cdc.gov/healthypets.

By following CDC’s simple tips on the Healthy Pets, Healthy People web site, you can enjoy your pets while protecting yourself against diseases they carry. Because wild animals can carry diseases that are dangerous to people, CDC discourages direct contact with wildlife. You should never adopt wild animals as pets or bring them home. Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if the animals appear to be friendly.

To prevent illness due to animal contact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following for all people, but especially for those at greatest risk of getting sick from pets:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after contact with animals and their feces.
  • Avoid rough play with cats and dogs to prevent scratches and bites.

    A person’s age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. These people include:

  • Infants and children less than 5 years old
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • People undergoing treatments for cancer
  • People who have received organ transplants
  • People with HIV/AIDS.

    If you fit into one of the groups of people outlined above, you should avoid contact with the following animals:

  • Reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes)
  • Baby chicks and ducklings
  • Puppies and kittens less than 6 months old
  • Pets with diarrhea