One of the things we are hearing quite often is that exotic animals carry many diseases that they can pass to humans (zoonotic diseases). While this statement is not untrue, it bothers us greatly because ANY animal can contract a disease that they can pass on to humans.
According to the CDC, there are 16 diseases commonly passed from cats to humans and 15 that dogs commonly passed to humans, some of these quite deadly. This information is taken from CDC's webpages "Diseases from Cats" and "Diseases from Dogs", which we highly encourage you to read.
For that matter, humans give each other diseases all the time. Just leaving your house, you are being exposed to germs every single day.
It is just a fact of life that there are germs in our world.
Did you know that there are also many diseases that humans can pass to their animals? We actually lost one of our beloved animals here at CLAWS due to a child in a program who had a cold.
One way to prevent diseases in any animal is to maintain proper vet care, vaccinate regularly, and keep all enclosures clean.
Note that meticulous hand washing is really also the only way to help prevent humans from contracting things that they then pass on to other humans.
Disease and all aspects of the animal's health and happiness are of great concern to us here at CLAWS. This is why we are meticulous in our daily care as well as our vet care. ALL of our animals are given a minimum of a yearly exam, which is typically much more thorough than a "normal" pet exam, to ensure they are healthy and do not have anything that they can pass on to either other animals or humans. It is also why any animal that comes in here is quarantined until tests can be run and we are sure the animal will not endanger either us or other animals here. We are also sticklers about hand washing both before and after handling of any animals, including dogs and cats.
Sadly, people who do not understand something will tend to attack it.
There is a very recent case of a humane society that found out that all 33 cats in their facility had giardia, a zoonotic disease that any species can contract and pass on. Unfortunately, they found this out by adopting a cat out to a family who realized that something was wrong with the cat and took it to their vet. That family had received veterinary records with the cat when they adopted it, stating that the cat was healthy and free from disease. After finding out that this was not the case, they contacted the humane society to inform them that they had a problem. This is a problem that the humane society will now spend a lot of time and money trying to fix, because it is so easily spread, especially among cats due to their lifestyle.
Our point is, disease is not JUST a concern with exotic animals, but with all species. We must all be diligent in our efforts to keep our animals safe and healthy.