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Jessi has an univited guest join her on screen while she talks about the gross things that your pets can share with you.

*Jessi was on a medication that weakened her immune system which allowed the ring worm to form. No worries, it did not come from or spread to the animals.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders.

Today we're joined by a not-so-welcome guest. Can you see it?

How about now? I'm having the unfortunate experience of playing host to an annoying but non-life threatening organism known as ringworm. And it's inspired me to talk about a subject that isn't always the most fun to think about.

Zoonotic means a disease that non-human animals can spread to humans and, not to make you worried, but there are a lot of zoonotic diseases way too many to cover in one episode so I'm going to highlight the most common. First up is my buddy here, ringworm. Contrary to what the name implies, ringworm isn't a worm.

It's not even an animal. It's an infection of the skin caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. The fungus can live in the soil or on mammals and it's commonly spread from dogs and cats to humans.

It likes to eat keratin and make itself at home in moist, dark places like between your toes. But it can also take up residence on your scalp, your fingernails, or anywhere on your body like your face. Ringworm is very contagious but those that are most susceptible are the young or old or those with a weakened immune system.

Most healthy adults will fight off an infection without even knowing they came in contact. If you notice a bare patch of skin on your pet mammal and it seems to be red, itchy or in the shape of a circle take them to the vet immediately. Treatment is easy and leaving it untreated can lead to it spreading through your whole household.

The next zoonotic disease I'd like to feature is one I'm constantly coming into contact with. Salmonella is a genus of bacteria that can be found in endothermic and ectothermic animals. It's most commonly associated with birds and reptiles and can also be found in spoiled foods.

I come into contact with Salmonella bongori all the time probably every day. 90% of reptiles carry this bacteria in their digestive tract and intermittently shed it out in their faeces. If they happen to step on or brush up against their faeces and then I touch them the bacteria gets on my hand. And then if I touch my mouth or eat something with my compromised hand.

I have a recipe for infection. If you do eat Salmonella it can cause an infection called salmonellosis which usually causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. It can clear up on its own in about a week but it can also become fatal to immunocompromised people if left untreated.

Fortunately, Salmonella can be killed and infection can be prevented easily and quickly by using soap or hand sanitizer. So just wash your hands and change your clothing after handling reptiles and birds and you can keep the salmonellosis away. The next zoonotic disease that's quite common is.

This is a parasite that's found living its natural life cycle in cats. The parasite lays eggs that are then passed through the cat's faeces and it can survive months before infecting the next host. When the eggs are ingested by a human, they reproduce and cause an immune response similar to the flu.

It's thought that a large majority of humans are already chronically infected with toxoplasma. Those that need to be worried about an infection are very young children and pregnant mothers because the parasite can affect brain development. Further studies are being done on how it affects us and other animals and the initial results are really interesting.

If you'd like to learn more about toxoplasma there's a link in the dooblydoo. The last zoonotic disease I'd like to feature are. This one is a parasite that can infect any endothermic animal.

They literally hook themselves to the intestinal wall and hang out laying eggs. It's transmitted from an infected animal's faeces into another animal that comes in contact with that faeces. Are you sensing a theme here?

Spread by faeces. The best way to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. Is by simply washing your hands after coming into contact with an animal.

However, hookworms can not only be ingested they can also crawl through your skin. The best way to prevent a hookworm infestation is to keep your animal's area clean and avoid walking around barefoot on potentially contaminated soil or bedding. Treatment for your pet is a trip to the vet to confirm they're otherwise healthy and then an oral pill that kills the adult hookworms and stops the life cycle.

Since it only kills the adults you'll need to do a repeat dose to kill the next generation. So if you'd like to avoid as many zoonotic diseases as possible wash your hands often and keep your pet's area nice and clean. Thanks for joining us on this adventure.

I hope you're feeling more knowledgeable about what gross things your pets can spread to you. If you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week subscribe to our YouTube channel Animal Wonders Montana. Thanks and we'll see you next week.