I'm not going to stop kissing and hugging people, or stop eating in restaurants, or stop exploring our wondrous world just because I might be exposing myself to rejection, germs, and injury.
And I'm certainly not going to stop having pets in my life.
But I'm an adult, and I know that if I have a pet, I should keep my pet well groomed, free of intestinal parasites, protected from heartworms, and that I also need to use effective flea and tick control.
If you buy the cheap stuff, or don't keep on schedule, or use some ridiculous herbal product as your flea and tick control ... you can convince yourself that you're fulfilling your responsibilities to your pet and family... but the reality is that you'd be doing a mediocre job of it... and as a result your pet is not only going to suffer the irritation and diseases that these common parasites cause, but you're going to increase the risk to your family as well.
This page is just a short list of the diseases that ticks, fleas, lice, and mosquitos can transmit to humans.
Dogs and cats and other pets can carry ticks into your life that might be carrying the germs that transmit the following human diseases:
Anaplasmosis (causes fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.)
Babesiosis (caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and is found primarily in the northeast and upper midwest.)
Borrelia miyamotoi infection (This is a newly discovered disease with symptoms similar to Lymes Disease. It is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).
Colorado tick fever (caused by a virus transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni). It occurs in the the Rocky Mountain states at elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet.)
Ehrlichiosis (transmitted to humans by the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum), found primarily in the southcentral and eastern U.S.)
Heartland virus (This infection has been identified in eight patients in Missouri and Tennessee as of March 2014. Studies suggest that Lone Star ticks may transmit the virus. It is unknown if the virus may be found in other areas of the U.S.)
Lyme disease (transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern U.S. and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.)
Powassan disease (transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei). Cases have been reported primarily from northeastern states and the Great Lakes region).
Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis (transmitted to humans by the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum).
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF is transmitted by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sangunineus) in the U.S. The brown dog tick and other tick species are associated with RMSF in Central and South America.)
STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness) (transmitted via bites from the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum), found in the southeastern and eastern U.S.)
Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected soft ticks. TBRF has been reported in 15 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming and is associated with sleeping in rustic cabins and vacation homes.)
Tularemia (transmitted to humans by the dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Tularemia occurs throughout the U.S.)
364D rickettsiosis (transmitted to humans by the Pacific Coast tick (Dermacentor occidentalis ticks). This is a new disease that has been found in California)
You need to protect your pets from ticks... for their protection and yours.
The companies that research, test, and produce flea and tick protection products keep coming up with new products as the parasites become resistant to our older products. It's hard to keep up. But trust your veterinarian to give you good advice. We see hundreds of pets each week and know which products are working better than others in your area.
In our area of South Carolina, Frontline Plus, Vectra3D, and Advantix are working fairly well on ticks, although we're getting more and more comments that the fleas are getting resistant.
Preventic tick collars are working well for 4-8 weeks (ticks only)
Seresto flea and tick collars are apparently working fairly well on both cats and dogs for up to 8 months. I haven't had much experience with this product yet. But safety to humans... especially children may be an issue.
A new product called NexGuard is working REALLY well on both fleas and ticks. NexGuard is what I recommend to my dog clients. Revolution is what we recommend for cats and while not a great tick protection product, it works fairly well and it's safe. (many other tick control products are not safe for cats)
- avoid keeping your pet in tick infested areas
- groom your pets
- remove ticks as needed
- use an effective product recommended by your vet
Just so you know: your vet can now easily and inexpensively screen for several of the more common tick borne diseases in your dog with an in clinic blood test called 4DX.
There is an effective Lymes vaccine available for dogs and it's recommended for those dogs living in areas where Lymes disease is prevalent. There aren't any vaccines available for other tick borne diseases.
Fleas are highly allergenic and can cause severe skin irritation. But they can also transmit disease organisms from one pet to another and from pets to humans. And from human to human. There is some speculation that hepatitis might be transmitted via fleas. They do transmit Bubonic plague and monkey pox from Prairie Dogs. Click here to go to our main page about fleas
Fleas can cause severe anemia: This is no joke; every vet sees multiple cases a year of pets near death due to blood loss from fleas
Tapeworms are spread by fleas
And fleas can transmit Bubonic Plague,Typhus, Prison Fever, Ship Fever,
Haemobartonellosis, and Tularemia ("rabbit fever")
Lice and Mites
The lice and mites that pets get can sometimes cause a rash or allergic reaction on humans but rarely cause an infestation...most lice and mites affect only one species of animal. This is known as being species specific.
But, for the comfort of your pet and just to be sure, keep your pet clean and groomed and if it's obvious something is wrong with your pet's skin, see your veterinarian.
Mosquitos are flying syringes able to transmit diseases from animal to animal and animal to people and people to people. And mosquitos can fly several miles!
Examples of diseases spread by mosquitos include
Heartworm disease (yes, (immuned suppressed) people can get infected with heartworms)
Rift Valley Fever
Multiple types of Encephalitis to include Eastern Equine Encephalitis which is a problem in the U.S.