Although pets may look inoffensive, they are not only a source of great fun. They can sometimes transmit infections to their owners. In fact, some American researchers discovered that hamsters, mice and rats can be salmonella carriers.
Salmonella are bacteria that cause intestinal infections called salmonellosis in humans. Salmonella are generally contracted by eating foods that have been contaminated with animal feces. Meats, raw eggs and milk are often identified as culprit foods, but fruits and vegetables can be contaminated as well.
We already knew that reptiles and turtles are carriers often infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Little rodents adopted by many families will now have to be added to this list of suspects.
The first symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that generally appear between 12 and 72 hours after being infected. Patients most often recover on their own in 4 to 7 days. The main treatment for salmonellosis consists of replenishing liquids lost through diarrhea and vomiting.
Sometimes bacteria succeed in spreading from the intestines to the bloodstream. The symptoms then become more severe and the infection requires intravenous antibiotics and intravenous therapy, commonly known as IV. In very severe cases, it can be deadly.
The best defence to prevent salmonellosis is to adopt more vigilant hygiene rules. Here are a few important tips to follow: - When purchasing or putting food away, separate meats from fruits and vegetables and cooked or ready-to-eat foods. - Upon coming home from grocery shopping, refrigerate or freeze foods immediately. - Avoid eating non-pasteurized dairy products. - Thoroughly cook meats and eggs. - Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. - Clean all work surfaces and utensils after using them to prepare raw foods. Do not reuse them to manipulate the same food once it is cooked. - Thaw foods in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Never thaw food at room temperature. - Change your kitchen rag daily. - Wash your hands with soap and warm water after going to the washroom.
In light of this discovery, we should now add washing your hands after handling your pet and after cleaning its litter or cage to the list. You should also regularly disinfect the table upon which the cage rests, as feces will most likely have fallen and contaminated this surface.
Parents and teachers should be especially vigilant with little kids, as they often forget to wash their hands. Children are particularly at risk of developing complications after having been infected with salmonella because diarrhea and vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration.
In spite of all of this, you should not prevent children from caring for pets. Good hygiene and taking care of a creature entirely dependent upon its owner are both learned behaviours.
Do not forget that children can reap great benefits from loving and learning to care for their pets. You just need to make sure they wash their hands!