How do you avoid contracting zoonotic diseases?
Your take away from this four part blog should be: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Good personal hygiene is THE most important thing you can do to prevent any kind of disease or illness, including zoonotic diseases.
Wash your hands often, especially after working or playing outside and with animals, including pets.
The proper way to wash your hands according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Do not drink water from our springs or rivers…or any water source unless you know it is purified…or you purify it yourself prior to consumption.
Avoid well intentioned community drinking bowls for pets – your pet may be vaccinated, but someone else's pet sadly may not be.
Be sure your pets are protected and vaccinated against species specific zoonotic diseases – confirm this with your pet’s veterinarian to be sure.
If your pet's behavior changes, (s/he won't eat, or has no energy, loses interest in his/her favorite past times), contact your veterinarian – don't wait!
Wear protective gear if you need to interact with wildlife – and what they leave behind – gloves, face mask, goggles, long sleeves and pants, closed toe shoes and white socks.
Check your clothes for evidence of ticks after an outing and use safe pest deterrents to keep mosquitos and other insects away.
If you believe you have been or could have been exposed to a zoonotic disease, you should ask your physician to test for the disease or condition. Many zoonotic conditions would not be included in the first round of testing, unless there was the risk of potential exposure for the person being tested and the physician is informed.
If you believe you have been exposed to a zoonotic disease and you are pregnant or nursing, contact your physician – and do not clean your cat’s litter box – remember, prevention is your best defense.
If you are regularly exposed to specific zoonotic organisms – ask you physician about precautionary measures – such as RVS vaccines for those who interact with the rabies vector species.
Enjoy our wildlife from a distance - do not put yourself or them in unnecessary danger.
If you do come across an animal in distress, reach out to the proper contact. To find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, visit The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website for a listing of CT state rehabbers.
Special thanks to the Connecticut Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (CWRA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for content included in this blog.