Health Scares in the News Part 9

OK, so there’s a new health scare making the rounds that pertains to pet owners. The scary headline on MSN warns that “Cuddling dying pets gives owners scary infection”. This makes it sound like the bacteria in question (Pasteurella multicoda) is killing pets and then striking down the people who care for them – kind of like the bubonic plague. In fact, P. multicoda is a very common bacteria found in the mouths of most dogs and cats, usually causing no symptoms. The normal route of infection for humans is through animal bites. This results in skin infection.

However, swapping spit with your pets can introduce this foreign bacteria into your mouth, throat, and lungs. That’s what the MSN story is referring to. It’s not “cuddling” a pet that’s the problem. It’s sharing utensils, kissing pets on the face, and getting those slobbery doggy or kitty smooches on the mouth in return. The patients described in the story simply had respiratory tract infections from P. multicoda. They responded well to standard antibiotics. It’s unclear if the patients just went to the doctor with a sore throat or if they really found the infection “scary”. The upshot is that saliva of pets can make you sick if you ingest too much of it. Perhaps you could also get a hairball from licking your cat. This news story is no reason not to pet and comfort your furry friends as they make their final transition.

Tags: Health and Beauty