Can Dogs Carry Fungus to Humans?

by Quentin Coleman
    Infectious parasitic fungi dwell in mud and other moist natural environments.

    Infectious parasitic fungi dwell in mud and other moist natural environments.

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    Humans have little to fear from most canine diseases, but that doesn't mean you are immune. There are plenty of microscopic fungal organisms that your dog can collect as he explores the outdoors. Some of these infectious pathogens are considered zoonotic, which means they can spread between humans and animals.

    Ringworm is a prevalent fungal infection among people and animals throughout the United States. It's a highly contagious and persistent nuisance among canines, felines and humans. Dermatophytes are parasites that rapidly spread and colonize on their host's skin. People or animals may also become infected through direct skin contact or by sharing garments and bedding. Dog owners can catch the disease when touching their pet or sharing blankets and furniture. The pathogen also clings to shed fur, so an infected pet can spread it around the home in no time.

    Dogs can also carry sporotrichosis, which may spread to people through skin contact. This fungus usually causes a superficial skin infection, but some serious cases result from internal infection. Dogs can also carry the pathogen responsible for blastomycosis, but owners are more likely to contract it from their shared environment rather than their pet, according to University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Infected dogs primarily carry and spread the fungus in open lesions on their skin, although the organism can live in their mouth and nose as well.

    It's difficult to identify your pet's skin infections on your own, because many bacterial and fungal pathogens produce similar symptoms. Ringworm inflames the skin, causing hair loss and an incessant urge to scratch. Local infections start as red bumps, but the inflammation quickly expands outward into a rough circle. Individual infections may emerge nearby, or on another part of the host's body altogether. Sporotrichosis creates benign nodules underneath its host's skin during a cutaneous infection, but it can prove fatal if it reaches the bloodstream. Canines infections are usually confined to the skin, but it can create a life-threatening condition if it enters the bloodstream. Internal infections may be concentrated in the lungs if the pathogen was inhaled, or spread throughout various organs and bones.

    Prioritize your dog's hygiene and health to prevent zoonotic fungal infections from taking hold. Take him to the vet for checkups every six months and maintain a regular grooming schedule, according to Adelaide Animal Hospitals. Encourage children to wash their hands after playing with the pet, particularly before meals. Minimize human contact with your pet if he shows signs of a skin infection or more serious illness until the vet diagnoses the condition.

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    About the Author

    Quentin Coleman has written for several news publications as well as the University of Delaware's public relations department. He also spent more than 10 years working with a local animal shelter to help nurse kittens, treat sick cats and domesticate feral animals. Coleman graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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