Love for pets can be life-threatening

It is fashionable to keep exotic animals as pets. When buying such animals people never think that they may contract all sorts of diseases from them

Bird flu in Russia is almost over, but still epidemiologists started registering outbreaks of another dangerous disease tularemia. While bird fly is exceptionally birds' disease, tularemia is that of humans. The thing that these two have in common is that they are both transmitted by animals. According to the scientific work pro-rector of the Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine Alexander Sidorchuk bird flu has been known for a long time already and there were already outbreaks in Russia before, but this time it has mutated. Although animals, birds and humans have different kinds of flu there is a certain danger for humans because of this mutation.

Measures for preventing the virus from spreading further are really strict. Hunters are asked not only to burn the shot birds but to bury them underground as well. People are forced to exterminate poultry. Nevertheless, they try to be crafty and make canned poultry out of the killed birds. According to Sidorchuk, it is vitally important to prevent virus from spreading further. That is why it is dangerous for a hunter to bring his take home as virus still go on living in the killed bird. Another thing if the hunter cooks it and eats it at once. It is not dangerous as boiling, frying or sterilization kills the virus.

Tularemia is transmitted by rodents, mice in particular. It can be caught from insects as well. That is why it is important to exterminate rodents, mosquitoes and ox flies. The symptoms of the disease include headaches, pain in limbs accompanied by fever, nausea and insomnia.

In Primorie the foot-and-mouth disease is spreading rapidly. It can cover an area of 400 km a day, being spread with the air, dust, birds, transport, people's clothes and shoes. There were several cases of people infected with the disease about a century ago but starting from the second half of the 20th century no serious case was registered.

When it comes to the mad cow disease it is considered that the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease is a variety of mad cow disease for Homo sapiens. In both cases the brain becomes a sponge. Mad cow disease is caused not by a virus but by a certain group of pathogens, so called prions. It is a pathogeniс protein of the animal and human organism. The case is not very well studied yet, but it is certain that the only way to get ill is from the meal rich in prions. Their concentration in the meat of the infected animals is not dangerous for humans. Another thing is brain of the infected animals. In other words only by eating fresh brains of the infected animal a person can theoretically contract this disease. However, there is another danger. As prionic protein is found both in animals and humans there is a risk that one day this species barrier will be overcome one day. 

Those diseases that have already mentioned above are not dangerous for humans yet. Meantime, there is a large group of more than 200 diseases common for animals and humans that present real danger for people. Most of them are exotic for Russians. However, there are about 30 viral, parasitical and bacterial that are known in Russia as well.

The most common of them is rabies. Nowadays there are even fatal cases. Several people have recently died of rabies in Moscow and its suburbs. Most often rabies is transmitted by foxes. Bites by them are even more common than those by dogs or cats.
People also contract tuberculosis and leptospirosis from animals. The latter can be even caught while swimming if you swallow some of the water containing a pathogen. The intoxication can be so serious that a person can die during next few days. Heavy cases are accompanied by fever, muscular pains, hemorrhages and jaundice.

It has become very fashionable to keep exotic animals as pets. It is so fashionable that parrots are not considered exotic anymore. However, it is parrot that can infect a person with chlamidiosis and some unknown diseases that we do not know how to cure. Rodents and monkeys can be also dangerous. Some people even have crocodiles as pets. Those can transmit tuberculosis. One must be careful when buying such pets as many of them are sold illegaly. One should always bear in mind that reserve or zoo is a better place for such animals than an apartment.

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Author`s name Olga Savka