A great deal of attention is paid to protecting people from exposure to human blood. Human blood can contain dangerous pathogens that can result in serious and even fatal diseases. The most common of these diseases in the United States, including in the state of California, are:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
While the hazards of human blood are broadcast fairly broadly, little is said about dealing with exposure to pet blood, particularly blood from dogs and cats. The reality is that there is a considerable amount of confusion in regard to how certain diseases are passed from pets to humans. Pet owners and others do need to have an accurate understanding of possible dangers which might exist when it comes to exposure to pet blood.
The Spread of Disease Through Pet Blood
At this time, the risk of the transmission of disease from pets to humans via exposure to blood is low. For example, the four most common types of diseases spread from human to human via blood – HIV, MRSA, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C – are not found in pets, including dogs and cats. In addition, at this time there are no major diseases carried by dogs and cats that currently spread to humans by exposure to blood.
The fact that as of this moment the risk of disease transmission from pets to humans via blood is low doesn’t mean that will always be the case. One of the alarming facts about viruses and bacteria is that they can mutate and change over time. Indeed, viruses and bacteria can mutate seemingly “out of the blue.” In other words, even though pet blood might not contain more dangerous pathogens today, that can change without notice.
You should avoid direct contact with pet blood. If you come into direct contact with pet blood, even blood from our own dog, cat, or other pet, you need to wash it off immediately. If you somehow get pet blood into a wound on your skin, you need to wash it off immediately. You need to apply an antibiotic after washing.
Odds are that you will not face a medical issue. However, if you start to feel ill, do not automatically presume that exposure to pet blood is not the reason. Again, while the odds of your becoming ill after exposure to pet blood is low, it’s not impossible based on the information provided a moment ago. If you feel ill, make an appointment with your doctor. Explain to your doctor the contact you had with pet blood and the nature of your symptoms. Your physician can then decide what testing or steps need to be taken to attempt to identify the issue at hand.
Protecting Yourself When Cleaning up Pet Blood
If you are faced with cleaning up pet blood, you should follow the same protocol used for cleaning up human blood to ensure that you fully protect yourself from any potential risk. At the heart of safely cleaning up the pet, blood is to make sure you utilize proper “personal protective equipment.” This includes using:
- Apron or smock
If some sort of more traumatic experience has occurred in regard to a pet, a person facing a cleanup issue might want to consider retaining the services of a professional. A biohazard cleanup professional has the expertise, tools, and resources necessary to safely remediate a potentially dangerous situation.
Understanding Common Infectious Pet Diseases
There are a number of infectious diseases that can be carried by dogs and cats (and some other pets as well). Some of these pathogens can have serious health consequences. Pet owners and others need to be aware generally of these pathogens. These pathogens spread through a variety of means, including bites and contact with saliva as well as contact with feces or urine. The most common types of diseases that can be spread from pets to humans are:
- Bubonic plague
- Cat scratch disease (cat scratch fever)
At this time, none of these diseases or infections are spread directly by blood from pets to humans. Once more, it is necessary to stress the fact that the possibility does exist that some type of mutation might occur that renders one or another of these pathogens transferrable via pet blood to humans.
In summary, when it comes to pet blood, you need to be cautious and proactive. However, you do not need to become an alarmist when it comes to risks associated with contact with pet blood.