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5 cute looking pets that can ruin your health


Dr Sampurna Roy MD             


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This post is for all pet owners and those who are seriously thinking of owning a pet.

Once we keep a pet in our house they become part of our extended family.

Both adults and kids play and cuddle with their pets and are often not aware that these cute pets can transmit infection.

Before owning a pet you should contact your family physician to know how to protect your family from animal transmitted diseases.

This is a short list of some popular and exotic pets that can seriously damage your health.


(1)  Rabbits:

Rabbits look adorable, unfortunately these attractive animals have been known as "pests" in some countries because of the damage they do to the crops.

Tularemia is an acute, febrile, granulomatous, zoonotic disease caused by Francisella tularensis.

Rabbits  are the most important reservoirs.

For more information- Read: Pathology of Tularemia

(2)  Parrots



No birds make a more entertaining pet than parrot, because of its ability to repeat words that it has heard people say.

Psittacosis, also known as "parrot fever" and "ornithosis", is a bacterial infection of humans that can cause severe pneumonia and other serious health problems. 

It is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci (obligate intracellular bacterium).

For more information - Read: Pathology of Psittacosis

(3) Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are considered as exotic pets. It is covered with spine but the moment it is touched or even hears a sharp noise it rolls itself into a ball by means of muscles beneath its skin.

The spines then stand out in every direction and since they are hard and sharp they make an excellent defence.

Hedghogs are known to be source of ringworm (Tinea) infection. 

The most important superficial mycoses is dermatophytosis, a clinical entity caused by a group of related filamentous fungi - Dermatophytes, of the genera Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton.

Diseases produced by the dermatophytes occur worldwide and are known as tineas, or ringworm.

For more information- Read: Pathology of Dermatophytosis  and Pathology Photo of the Day.

(4) Cats

Cats are world's most popular pet.

In ancient Egypt cats were the most respected of all animals.

Egypt was a great grain-producing country and cats helped to keep down rats and other pests which attacked the grains stored in granaries.

Egyptians even had a cat goddess called Bastet or Bubastis and they kept cats in their temples and offered sacrifices to them.

When a cat died the family and servants shaved their eyebrows and went into mourning and on the death of the temple cat the whole city mourned.

When they died cats were often preserved as mummies, just as kings and nobles were and anyone who killed a cat was put to death.

I wanted to share this interesting story about our feline friend for fun and entertainment.

On a serious note, if you are a cat owner keep yourself informed about two important diseases, Cat Scratch Disease and Toxoplasmosis. Consult your physician and take all necessary precautions to protect your family from diseases transmitted by cats.

For more information- Read: Pathology of Cat Scratch Disease ; Systemic pathology quiz case 2 ; Dignosis and discussion of the pathology quiz case 2 ; Pathology of Toxoplasmosis.

Ref: Complex organic chemical balms of Pharaonic animal mummies.

The "House of life" of Bubastis.

(5) Dogs

Dog are known as "Man's best friend". Throughout the ages, men have loved and included dogs in their stories and legends and in their everyday language.

There are some fascinating stories about dogs.

Cerberus was the famous dog which, according to the ancient Greeks, guarded the gates of hell.

Egyptian tombs and temples built 5000 years ago are decorated with pictures of dogs.

The ancient Ethiopians had so much respect for dogs that they elected one as their king and watched his behaviour carefully to see if they could tell how he thought the business of government should be carried on.

Dogs have saved men's lives, have worked for man untiringly and have shown lasting friendship.

Unfortunately, one deadly dog bite can also kill a person. Globally more than 55000 people die of rabies each year, about 95% in Asia and Africa. 

For more information- Read: Pathology of Rabies ; Pathology of Negri bodies.

The dog's role as a definitive host for a number of zoonotic parasites has been widely studied and recognized as being a significant public health problem worldwide. 

Some important gastrointestinal  helminths which are transmitted from dog feces are Hookworm ,Echinococcus Granulosus (Tapeworm), and Round worm (Ascaris lumbricoides). 

Pet's environment, diet and social needs play an important role to keep them healthy and more disease resistant. You can have a wonderful time with your pet if you are aware of the health hazards and regularly visit your doctor for guidance and health check ups.

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Dr  Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)







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