Some people treat pets like members of their own family. But be careful if you intend to share a bed with them, because a pet can transmit dangerous diseases, including meningitis.
United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a shocking study about pets. Physical contact with cats and dogs are very risky to transmit zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted by animals).
One of the deadly disease which spreads easily through direct contact with pets is meningitis or inflammation of the lining of the brain. This disease has a mortality risk of 50 percent, it can be cured but there are risks of permanent neurological damage such as paralysis, epilepsy or mental disorders.
In a research to be published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal February 2011, the CDC noted a few cases of meningitis infection from pets. The cases that generally occurs through contact of body fluids, especially saliva.
One of them struck a 44-year-old woman in Arizona who recently contracted meningitis. Based on his confession, transmission of meningococcus bacteria causes of meningitis occurred because he likes to kiss her pet cat in the mouth or nose.
Meanwhile, a baby in another is that was not mentioned more detailed also contracted meningitis from a pet cat. The cats were playing and biting the baby’s milk bottle which was later used by the baby to drink milk.
Another case happened to a man whose origin or identity was not mentioned. This man was contracted by meningitis because he shared a bed with his dog, until one day the dog licked his hip surgery scars.
Related to the habit of sleeping with pets, Prof. Bruno Chomel, a researcher from the University of California gives an advice. According to him, this habit is not only risky to transmit meningitis but also plague.
Plague is a deadly disease that can be transmitted by dogs and cats through fleas that they have. Fleas infected with plague-causing bacteria Yersinia pesti can be transmitted to humans who come into contact with it.
“Transmission of disease from pets to humans are very rare but very possible. The research is not to scare people, but to make them realize that sleeping with a pet is always risky,” said Prof. Chomel, according to CNN.
On the other hand, some other experts say that the presence of pets in the family has its own benefits for health. A new study suggests children who live with cats, dogs or other pets have much better body endurance.
Playing with pets can also increase levels of oxytocin or hormones antidote to stress. Consequently, if a person often plays with pets, the risk for depression become lower.