What Does the CDC do for People and Pets?

The recent outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa has brought the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) into the news in a big way. Unfortunately, while the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia is a beehive of activity and research every day, we only hear about them when there is some sort of human health crisis. We are truly fortunate to have the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor health risks all year round. They predict what will hit (like the flu) and when it will hit and how best to mount a response to the risk. I am relatively sure the folks at the CDC would welcome a quiet spell but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Click here to learn the CDC guidelines for Ebola and pets.

How does the CDC support healthy people and pets?
Not only does the CDC address human diseases they also address animal diseases that are of zoonotic significance. In recent years, thousands of people have become sick because of contact with animals. Although the spread of diseases from animals to people is rare, pets do sometimes carry germs that can make people sick. The diseases people get from animals are known as zoonotic (zoe-oh-NOT-ic) diseases.

Zoonotic diseases are a primary focus for the CDC for good reason. Nearly 75% of emerging diseases come from an animal origin1. Tick–borne diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are serious public health problems, infecting tens of thousands in the United States each year. The CDC is working closely with local communities, developing innovative control approaches and researching improved diagnostics every day.

Unfortunately, veterinarians and our pet patients don’t have a CDC or its equivalent. However organizations such as The American Heartworm Society, Companion Animal Parasite Council and many veterinary colleges do an amazing job of keeping veterinarians and pet owners informed.

How does the CDC educate people about pet wellness?
The CDC educates people on the intrinsic value of pets in human wellbeing as well as how to maintain healthy pets. According to the CDC, “The pets sharing our world provide love, comfort, and companionship. Pets are not only fun to play with but also important to our lives. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.” These aren't the only ways pets can improve health in people, says the CDC.

Pets can decrease your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Feelings of loneliness

Pets can increase your:

  • Opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Opportunities for socialization

In short, the leading authority on human wellness in the US supports pet ownership as a means to improve human health. Not surprisingly the CDC is also involved in recommendations for pet health including regular veterinary care. Click here to learn the power of a checkup.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Bringing an Animal into the United States

Guidance for persons being evacuated or repatriated from countries with a high risk of rabies with their pets during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) outbreak.

All dogs imported into the United States must be healthy on arrival. Dogs imported into the United States from countries with a high risk of rabies must have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. On an extremely limited basis, CDC may issue advanced written approval for individuals being evacuated or repatriated from high-risk countries for pets that do not meet CDC’s entry requirements. Please contact [email protected] to request advanced written approval.

Cats must be healthy on arrival. A rabies vaccination certificate is not required but vaccination against rabies is recommended.

USDA also has requirements external icon regarding importing dogs and cats.

CDC regulations govern the importation of animals and animal products capable of causing human disease. Pets taken out of the United States are subject upon return to the same regulations as those entering for the first time.

The CDC does not require general certificates of health for pets for entry into the United States. However, health certificates may be required for entry into some states, or may be required by airlines for pets. You should check with officials in your state of destination and with your airline prior to your travel date.

CDC has learned that Internet scammers are falsely representing themselves as CDC employees in e-mails to US citizens. Learn more about internet adoption scams.

Information for Healthcare Providers

Zoonoses & One Health Updates (ZOHU) Calls are one-hour monthly webinars that provide timely education on zoonotic and infectious diseases, One Health, and related health threats at the human- animal-environment interface. Earn free Continuing Education with ZOHU Calls.

Physicians and other healthcare providers should be aware of the risk for zoonotic diseases in pets, farm animals, and wildlife, as well as the risk of diseases spreading between animals and their owners or caretakers. Healthcare providers should counsel patients on prevention practices, including how to stay safe and healthy around animals. Healthcare providers should consider asking about contact with animals at home or away from home. This might include asking about pets, possible workplace exposures, and leisure activities. Healthcare providers should also always consider the potential for a zoonotic infection when seeing sick patients. Patients at higher risk for serious illness with zoonotic infections include children under 5 years old, people with weakened immune systems, older adults over 65 years old, and, in many cases, pregnant women.

The following resources include current guidelines on specific zoonotic disease topics, educational resources, and references to disease-specific information.

Guidelines and Recommendations

Zoonotic Disease Outbreak Information

In addition to disease-specific information, CDC provides a list of current and recent US outbreaks of zoonotic diseases, including information for clinicians specific to these outbreaks.

Highlighted Publications

  • WSAVA Clinician’s Brief: Do Backyard Chickens Pose Any Health Risks to Humans? external icon
  • WSAVA Clinician’s Brief: Can Children Get Pinworms from a Pet Dog or Cat? external icon
  • WSAVA Clinician’s Brief: Do Pet Reptiles or Amphibians Pose Any Health Risks to Humans? external icon
  • Confronting Zoonoses, Linking Human and Veterinary Medicine
  • Reducing the risk of pet-associated zoonotic infections external icon

CDC Expert Commentaries

  • Animal Lovers and Zoonotic Diseases: 5 Things to Know external icon
    Anyone who comes in contact with animals is at risk for zoonotic diseases.
  • 5 Hidden Dangers in International Travel external icon
    Travel to far-flung, global locations is growing in popularity. Prepare your patients for safe and healthy international travel with these five things to remember.
  • Rabies Risk Assessment external icon
    Challenge yourself with these cases that illustrate key rabies prevention and treatment situations. Would you know what to do?
  • Illnesses Linked to Contact with Pets and Farm Animals
    external icon In this slideshow, CDC reviews outbreaks of enteric diseases linked to contact with animals.
  • Pet Turtles Can Make People Sick: Guidance for Clinicians
    external icon Many people keep small turtles as pets, not realizing that they can cause disease.
  • Pets Can Make People Sick
    external icon Which furry (and not furry) friends are most likely to transmit infection to humans? Share these precautions with your pet-loving patients.
  • Neglected Infections of Poverty – Toxocariasis
    external icon Learn about a disease associated with poverty, low education levels, and dog ownership.

Resources for Patients

Use these resources to give patients information on staying healthy around animals.

Adopt these healthy pet habits

Stay healthy around pet reptiles and amphibians!

How to check your pet for ticks

Disease-Specific Resources

CDC offers information for healthcare providers about many of the common zoonotic infections that may affect patients.

Pet Safety in Emergencies

Emergencies come in many forms: fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms and even terrorism. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet? Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.

To get started, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and consider your options for providing care for your pet(s).

Disasters can happen without warning, so be prepared:

  • Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
  • Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
  • Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.
  • Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).
  • Prepare a Pet Disaster Kitso evacuation will go smoothly for your entire family. Ask your veterinarian for help in putting together your pet’s veterinary records.

Make a Plan

  • Plan where you and your pet will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Pets may not be allowed in local shelters, unless they are service animals. Many disaster evacuation centers (such as Red Cross evacuation centers) do not accept pets and other animals.
    • Identify shelters or out-of-town friends or relatives where your pets and other animals can stay.
    • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter and in the case you are unable to return home right away.
  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home during an emergency. Ask a trusted neighbor who can check on your animals and can evacuate your animals if necessary.
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter and add the veterinarian’s contact information to your emergency kit.

Create an emergency kit for your pet

Prepare an emergency kit for your pet ahead of time.

  • Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).
  • Food and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
  • For cats: litter box and litter
  • For dogs: plastic bags for poop
  • Medications for at least 2 weeks
  • Medical records, including record of vaccination for rabies and other diseases, prescription medications, and medical history.
  • Sturdy leashes or harnesses
  • Microchip number
  • Contact information (cell phone, work phone, home phone) of owner and close relative or friends

Practice evacuating your pet

  • Train your pets to be in their carriers by making it a comfortable place.
  • Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in. If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.
  • Know where your pet might hide when stressed or scared. Practice catching your pet, if needed.
  • For cats, you can practice removing your cat from his/her hiding spot and using your cat’s carrier, a pillowcase, a sturdy box — anything to get your cat quickly out of harm’s way.
  • Have your entire family practice evacuating with your pets so everyone knows what to take, where to find the pets, and where to meet.

If you don’t have a plan and need information quickly in an emergency, contact:

Local Animal Shelters
Search for local shelters and rescue groups on Petfinder’s Shelter Center external icon . Local animal shelters may be able to offer advice on what to do with your pets if you are asked to evacuate your home.

Local Government
Local government animal control or service agencies can provide guidance on how to protect your pets in an emergency.

Relief Organizations

RedRover shelters and cares for animals displaced by natural disasters and other crises in the United States and Canada. If you need sheltering assistance, please call RedRover at (800) 440-3277 or visit external icon .

Sheltering during an evacuation

  • Remember, during a disaster, what is good for you is good for your pet. If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors.
  • Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets. If accommodations are needed for your pet(s):
    • Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, local animal shelters, family or friends outside the evacuation area, or a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.
    • Visit the Humane Society websiteexternal icon external icon to find a shelter in your area.
  • Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.
  • Learn what to expect if you take your pet to an evacuation center.

Sheltering in place

When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:

  • Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.
  • Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.
  • Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck in (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).

Diseases that can spread between pets and people during a natural disaster

Natural disasters can contribute to the transmission of some diseases. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put your pet at risk for getting sick. Some of these illnesses can be transmitted between pets and people (also known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses). Some common disaster-related diseases that pets can pass to people are the following: rabies, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

  • Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system in both animals and people. Rabies is transmitted through bites from rabid animals or through contact with their saliva. To protect you and your pet: Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately. Practice safe handling of pets in a stressful situation. Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash. Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals
  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in the urine of infected animals that can cause kidney damage and affect other organs. It is transmitted through contact with infected urine or contaminated water, soil, and food. Wash your hands after coming in contact with urine. Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters. Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.
  • Diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks: Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are common pests of stray animals and can be a problem immediately following a disaster situation. Their bites irritate the skin and may also spread a variety of diseases (Lyme disease, West Nile virus) harmful to both people and animals. To help prevent illnesses associated with mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks: Keep your pet away from wildlife and stray animals. Talk to your veterinarian about the use of a regular preventative treatment for fleas, ticks, and parasites for your pet.

How to Keep Yourself and Your Pets Healthy During a Disaster

  • Wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.
  • Do not let your pet lick your face or hands.
  • Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.
  • Practice safe handling of your pet, because your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.
  • Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash.
  • Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals.
  • Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.
  • Properly clean and disinfect cages and litterboxes. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.
  • Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.
  • Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.

After an emergency, familiar scents and landmarks may have changed. Pets can become confused and lost, so it’s important to keep pets on leash or in a carrier when they’re being transported or when you go outside. Some hazards to be aware of for pets and people include snakes and other wildlife, especially after flooding, and downed power lines.

Small Mammals

Credit: CDC would like to thank Kristine Smith DVM, a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine, and Tom Edling, DVM, MSpVM, MPH for their careful review of these pages.

The terms “small mammals” or “pocket pets,” refer to small animals, often rodents, which are kept as pets and could fit into your pocket. Common small mammal pets include:

  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Hamsters
  • Gerbils
  • Guinea pigs
  • Pygmy hedgehogs
  • Sugar gliders
  • Other small animals

Small mammals also include a few animals that are not so small, such as rabbits and prairie dogs.

Owning a small mammal can be a big responsibility, even though the animal itself may be tiny. If you decide that a small mammal is the right pet for you, you need to learn how to take care of it properly and be aware of diseases that it might carry. With routine veterinary care and some simple health habits, you are less likely to get sick from touching, petting, or owning a small mammal.

Some of the diseases associated with small mammal pets that can cause human illness include:

Most people who become sick with campylobacteriosis will have diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within 2 to 5 days after exposure. Campylobacter can cause serious life-threatening infections in infants, elderly persons, and other people with weakened immune systems.

People may get Cheyletiella mites when they pet or hold an infested rabbit. Chyletiella can temporarily infest humans, causing skin irritation and itching. The best way to prevent infestation in rabbits is to use an insecticide approved by your veterinarian.

Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks.

Human infections with LCMV are rare, especially from pet rodents. If people are infected, they generally have symptoms similar to those of the common flu. These symptoms include fever, stiff neck, loss of appetite, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting and often occur 1 to 2 weeks after exposure. People with weakened immune systems, especially young children and pregnant women, are the most at risk.

People cannot become infested with the animal versions of sarcoptic mange, but they can have a minor local reaction from the mites if they come in contact with an infested animal.

Although the virus is not currently reported in the United States, people can become infected if they are bitten or come in contact with an affected animal’s urine, blood, or rash. Signs and symptoms of monkeypox initially include fever, headache, muscle aches, and lymph nodes swelling. A rash that progresses to fluid-filled bumps may develop days later as the disease spreads.

People rarely become sick with pasteurellosis from small mammal pets. Instead, people most commonly get Pasteurella through animal bites. Pasteurella can cause painful wound and skin infections. In more severe cases, it can cause widespread infection throughout the body and might even affect the nervous system. To prevent pasteurellosis, protect yourself from bites and seek veterinary care for pets that appear sick.

In people, clinical signs range from flu-like symptoms and a rash to more severe infections of the joints, liver, heart, lungs, brain, and blood if left untreated.

Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.

People exposed to Salmonella might have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal cramps. Infants, elderly persons, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

Healthy habits

CDC recommends hand washing whenever you work or play with small mammals.

their bedding, urine, or stool. Be sure to assist children with handwashing. Thoroughly washing hands will reduce the risk of disease transmission to humans.

  • Avoid bites and scratches from small mammals, as bites might become seriously infected. Be cautious with unfamiliar animals, even if they seem friendly. Approach small mammals, especially those sleeping, with care even if they seem friendly.
  • Visit your veterinarian for routine evaluation and care to keep your small pets healthy and to prevent infectious diseases.
  • Before choosing your small mammal

    • Check your state, local, and property laws before choosing or buying a small mammal. Just because you can buy a pet doesn’t mean that it is legal to own it in your city, state, or property.

    Choosing a small mammal

    • Match a pet’s attitude, temperament, size, and activity level with your family, home, and the time you have to spend with your pet. If you want a pet that can be frequently handled and petted, do not choose a shy or aggressive pet in the hope it will adapt.

    Housing your small mammal

    • Learn how to properly care for your small animal. Find out what your pet needs in regards to food, daily activities, and environment. Proper care and nutrition for your pet will keep it healthy.
    • Be aware that small mammals may shed Salmonella and other germs in their stool or urine. Avoid skin contact with animal droppings and urine, which may be infectious.

    Monitor your pet’s health

    • If your pet becomes sick or dies soon after purchase:
      • Contact your veterinarian.
      • Inform the pet store or breeder about the pet’s illness or death. Consider waiting before purchasing another pet from the same source.

      What to do if bitten by a small mammal

      Many types of germs can be spread from animal bites, even if the wound does not look very bad. If a bite from your small mammal breaks the skin, you should:

      • Wash the wound with warm soapy water immediately. Even healthy pets can carry germs.
      • Seek medical attention if:
        • Pet appears sick.
        • Your wound is serious.

        Watch the video: CDC Global Disease Detectives: Clues From a Bat Cave (July 2021).