Illustration by Mimi Leung
Recent research has shown that sharing an ice cream cone with your dog or letting your cat nap on your face isn’t just unhygienic, it could kill you, shit-for-brains, so cut it out. A study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in November reported that zoonotic infections – diseases transmitted between animals and humans – are on the rise, and some will make you so sick death will be almost certain.
These sorts of ailments are spread by parasites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses that originate not from pigeons, rats, and other varmint scum, but from within the warm bodies of our beloved household pets. According to Michael Day, lead author of the report and a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Bristol, “as dogs and cats have moved from the barn to the bedroom, the potential for disease spreading to humans increases.” Michael predicts that the next global health threat could be a pet-borne zoonotic superbug.
“Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are emerging and causing problems in hospitals,” Michael said. MRSA, which can live in humans as well as animals, is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, and symptoms include weeping pustules or boils in your armpits or butt-crack, and it can lead to life-threatening blood infections and pneumonia. Another not-so-fun thing your pet can give you is visceral leishmaniasis, a disease sometimes spread by dogs that affects 500,000 people a year worldwide. It results from parasitic infestations in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow that lead to fever, mucosal ulcers, organ swelling, and, if the virus is left untreated, a slow and painful death. A 2010 article in the journal Eurosurveillance reported that the impact of the disease was “grossly underestimated,” and cited it as a major latent health threat in Europe, linking the spread of the disease to the increase in spoiled people insisting on travelling the world with their shit-eating dogs.
And who could forget toxoplasmosis, an infection that causes internal inflammation, seizures, and death. Toxoplasmosis commonly results from whiffing up too much cat crap, and there are around 60 million carriers in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Our old friend rabies is also on the rise. Spread mostly through dog bites, rabies infections cause 55,000 deaths per year, mostly in Asia and Africa. Besides the stereotypical foaming at the mouth, rabies can result in paralysis, anxiety, terror, hallucinations, and delirium. It also kills 99 percent of sufferers who don’t receive treatment.
So please, for the sake of the general well-being of humanity, quit French-kissing your schnauzer, asshole!
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