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Keep zoonosis on your radar as flu season kicks into gear

Article

Stay on alert for human-to-pet transmission of flu.

As flu season approaches, people who get sick may not realize they can pass the flu not only to other humans, but they could also pass the flu to pets. It is important to alert your veterinary clients to the concept of reverse zoonosis. It's poorly understood and has raised concern among scientists and veterinarians who want to prevent further flu transmission to pets. This flu season, encourage your clients to stay alert for changes in their pets' health or behavior and remind them to bring their pets in to see a veterinarian as soon as clients notice any changes. Of course, zoonosis can go the other way too. Here are easy tips to share with clients that help prevent the spread of disease:

  • Schedule annual or biannual veterinary visits for your pet, which should include fecal examinations.

  • Keep your pet on year-round monthly parasite prevention.

  • Keep pets indoors or supervised to discourage hunting, and do not feed pets raw or undercooked meats.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling animals and working outdoors. Be sure your children wash their hands after playing outside.

  • Wash any wounds, even small nicks and cuts, promptly and thoroughly.

  • Clean cats' litter boxes daily, wearing gloves, and always wash your hands immediately afterwards. If you're pregnant, you should avoid cleaning litter boxes altogether. Have someone else do it for you.

  • Avoid approaching, touching, or handling stray animals.

Source: Cathy Lund, DVM, and Araceli Lucio-Foster, PhD

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