A lot of folks confuse canine hepatitis with hepatitis B, which affects humans. But the cause of hepatitis B is the HBV virus. Adenovirus 1, or CAV-1, is the virus responsible for canine hepatitis. Canine hepatitis can spread between dogs, but an infected dog cannot transmit the virus to humans. However, other infections and parasites can pass between you and your favorite pooch.
Canine hepatitis is a contagious disease among dogs; it infects the liver and other internal organs. The condition is generally not fatal, though there is no direct treatment. Supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions, help the dog’s immune system fight the virus. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting, refusal to eat, diarrhea, nosebleeds, pale gums and mucous membranes, yellowing of the eyes, swollen abdomen and, in severe cases, seizures, coma and death. Luckily, a vaccine against canine hepatitis is available and derived from the CAV-2 virus. The vaccine is often part of the combination vaccine that puppies receive to fight distemper and parvovirus.
Zoonotic diseases are diseases and conditions capable of spreading between species. These can be bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal in nature. The spread of these diseases can occur through direct contact or insect bites that spread the infection. In order to reduce the risk of contracting a zoonotic disease, limit exposure to infected animals, wash your hands thoroughly after direct contact with an infected dog or its feces, and use bug repellent in areas where mosquitoes or ticks are common.
Numerous parasitic, viral and bacterial infections infecting your dog can pass to you. Parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, enter the soil through feces deposited by your dog. Walking barefoot in the yard is enough or young children eating sand in the backyard sandbox is enough to transmit the virus and infect you. Ringworm is a fungal infection that spreads by simply petting an infected dog. Leptospirosis is the most common zoonotic disease; it spreads through contact with urine or other body fluids, as well as via contaminated water and soil. Leptospirosis usually causes mild flulike symptoms in humans; in severe cases, it can result in death.
In addition to contracting one of these zoonotic diseases from your dog, you can infect your dog when you are sick with zoonotic conditions. One example is with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Normal contact, such as petting your dog when you get home, is enough to spread this condition. People and dogs can carry the bacteria on their skin without showing symptoms of infection. Health care workers who are exposed to the bacteria can spread them to their dog without knowing. In the same way, a dog carrying the MRSA virus can spread it to you.
- VetInfo: Is Hepatitis in Dogs Contagious?
- MayoClinic.com: Hepatitis B
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Baker Institute for Animal Health: An Overview of Infectious Canine Hepatitis
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Zoonotic Disease: When Humans and Animals Intersect
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Pet-Related Infections
- Illinois Department of Public Health: Questions and Answers About Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus for Pet Owners
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