These fascinating creatures are among several species of bio-luminescent insects that produce visible light. They store the chemicals and enzymes needed to produce the flashes in their bodies and mix it with oxygen to create the light. These flashes are unique to each species and the observer (and potential mates) can recognize which one they are seeing just by watching the flight pattern or counting the flashes. Females wait in the grass in one spot while flashing their ‘come hither’ lights directing the males to a rendezvous. Once mated, the females lay their eggs and die shortly after. Lightning bugs do not bite or sting and the light they emit has no heat. That’s why they are irresistible to kids. They fly slowly and are easy to catch in cupped hands. Some species of fireflies also have bio-luminescent eggs that flash when disturbed and the larvae (known as glow-worms) also emit light. Fireflies are pollen eaters and do not do any harm to flowers, grasses or trees.
Lightning bug lore
These unique little insects are special to many cultures around the world. They are believed to hold the souls of the departed in Japan. Another Asian legend was that fireflies were the souls of warriors that had fallen in battle. Native Americans believed that the fox tried to steal fire from the fireflies and set his tail on fire with some bark. He gives the hawk the flaming bark as he left the village, who scattered the embers as he flew away. That’s how the Apache people first received fire. The Victorians, who were experts at celebrating death and mourning believed that if a firefly came into a home that someone would die.
June bugs mean summer is here
June bugs did not have the same allure as the lightning bugs, however we still liked them because they meant that summer was officially here, and they also made good fishing bait. We saw two different beetles that we called June bugs here in western Kentucky. We saw striped ones and brown ones at night and the bigger, metallic green ones during the day. The night-time June bugs often arrived in May and while their numbers were the highest in early summer, they stayed around most of the season. The big, bumbling, clumsy beetles were attracted to the light over the garage door every evening and there were a couple of fat toads that lived under the porch steps that were well fed on June bugs. When they inevitably hit the garage door and fell to the ground, the toads were always waiting to slurp them up with their long, sticky tongues. There are over 100 species of scarab beetles that people call June bugs.
June bug lore
Many cultures with June bug lore believe that the presence of June bugs represent someone with a tough personality and not easily crushed by life’s troubles. On the opposite side of this, the term ‘crazy as a June bug in May’ describes someone who acts irrationally, probably because the June bugs seem irrational when they bumble around the lights at night.
June bug facts and how to deal with the larvae
It is unknown why certain insects are attracted to night-time lights. Most often it is the males, although in a few species both genders flock to the light. Often, they fly around the lights all night until they drop to the ground, exhausted. A popular theory is that they rely on a light source, such as the moon or the sun to navigate, however scientists really do not know why they have this behavior. June bugs flock to lights in such numbers that they often interfere with outdoor activities, bumbling and bumping into guests and family members on patios and in pools. June bugs to not bite or sting, however they do have prickly, stiff hairs on their legs that might pinch a bit if they land on you. The real problem with June bugs is the larval form. These grubs (which are also great fish bait) live in lawns and turf grass and cause damage by eating the roots. Damage appears as brown patches of dead grass and turf that is easily pulled with no roots attached. The grub population also attracts moles and armadillos and they can wreck a lawn with their tunnels and digging. A natural way to rid your lawn of these grubs is by broadcasting Hb nematodes across the lawn. The nematodes are tiny, microscopic worms that burrow into the grubs and kill them from the inside. If you go this route, then do not use the poisons that are available on the market, as they will kill the nematodes you’ve just bought too.
Summer in the South means bugs and humidity and you can either choose to embrace it or move. I grew up in a time where summer evenings were for sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea and your neighbors, or kids playing hide-and-seek or catching lightning bugs. Even now, the sight of fireflies blinking as I drive down the highway brings back fond memories and I head home to sit in my porch swing with a tall glass of sweet tea and enjoy the show in my front yard.
Many people experience the type of bad or unwanted thoughts that people with more troubling intrusive thoughts have, but most people can dismiss these thoughts. For most people, intrusive thoughts are a “fleeting annoyance”. Psychologist Stanley Rachman presented a questionnaire to healthy college students and found that virtually all said they had these thoughts from time to time, including thoughts of sexual violence, sexual punishment, “unnatural” sex acts, painful sexual practices, blasphemous or obscene images, thoughts of harming elderly people or someone close to them, violence against animals or towards children, and impulsive or abusive outbursts or utterances. Such bad thoughts are universal among humans, and have “almost certainly always been a part of the human condition”.
When intrusive thoughts occur with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), patients are less able to ignore the unpleasant thoughts and may pay undue attention to them, causing the thoughts to become more frequent and distressing. The thoughts may become obsessions which are paralyzing, severe, and constantly present, and can range from thoughts of violence or sex to religious blasphemy. Distinguishing them from normal intrusive thoughts experienced by many people, the intrusive thoughts associated with OCD may be anxiety provoking, irrepressible, and persistent.
How people react to intrusive thoughts may determine whether these thoughts will become severe, turn into obsessions, or require treatment. Intrusive thoughts can occur with or without compulsions. Carrying out the compulsion reduces the anxiety, but makes the urge to perform the compulsion stronger each time it recurs, reinforcing the intrusive thoughts. According to Lee Baer, suppressing the thoughts only makes them stronger, and recognizing that bad thoughts do not signify that one is truly evil is one of the steps to overcoming them. There is evidence of the benefit of acceptance as an alternative to suppression of intrusive thoughts. A study showed that those instructed to suppress intrusive thoughts experienced more distress after suppression, while patients instructed to accept the bad thoughts experienced decreased discomfort. These results may be related to underlying cognitive processes involved in OCD. However, accepting the thoughts can be more difficult for persons with OCD. In the 19th century, OCD was known as “the doubting sickness”; the “pathological doubt” that accompanies OCD can make it harder for a person with OCD to distinguish “normal” intrusive thoughts as experienced by most people, causing them to “suffer in silence, feeling too embarrassed or worried that they will be thought crazy”.
The possibility that most patients suffering from intrusive thoughts will ever act on those thoughts is low. Patients who are experiencing intense guilt, anxiety, shame, and upset over these thoughts are different from those who actually act on them. The history of violent crime is dominated by those who feel no guilt or remorse; the very fact that someone is tormented by intrusive thoughts and has never acted on them before is an excellent predictor that they will not act upon the thoughts. Patients who are not troubled or shamed by their thoughts, do not find them distasteful, or who have actually taken action, might need to have more serious conditions such as psychosis or potentially criminal behaviors ruled out. According to Lee Baer, a patient should be concerned that intrusive thoughts are dangerous if the person does not feel upset by the thoughts, or rather finds them pleasurable; has ever acted on violent or sexual thoughts or urges; hears voices or sees things that others do not see; or feels uncontrollable irresistible anger.
Intrusive thoughts may involve violent obsessions about hurting others or themselves. They can be related to primarily obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder. These thoughts can include harming a child; jumping from a bridge, mountain, or the top of a tall building; urges to jump in front of a train or automobile; and urges to push another in front of a train or automobile. Rachman’s survey of healthy college students found that virtually all of them had intrusive thoughts from time to time, including:
causing harm to elderly people
imagining or wishing harm upon someone close to oneself
impulses to violently attack, hit, harm or kill a person, small child, or animal
impulses to shout at or abuse someone, or attack and violently punish someone, or say something rude, inappropriate, nasty, or violent to someone.
These thoughts are part of being human, and need not ruin quality of life. Treatment is available when the thoughts are associated with OCD and become persistent, severe, or distressing.
A variant of aggressive intrusive thoughts is L’appel du vide, or the call of the void. Sufferers of L’appel du vide generally describe the condition as manifesting in certain situations, normally as a wish or brief desire to jump from a high location.
Like other unwanted intrusive thoughts or images, everyone has some inappropriate sexual thoughts at times, but people with OCD may attach significance to the unwanted sexual thoughts, generating anxiety and distress. The doubt that accompanies OCD leads to uncertainty regarding whether one might act on the intrusive thoughts, resulting in self-criticism or loathing.
One of the more common sexual intrusive thoughts occurs when an obsessive person doubts his or her sexual identity. As in the case of most sexual obsessions, sufferers may feel shame and live in isolation, finding it hard to discuss their fears, doubts, and concerns about their sexual identity.
A person experiencing sexual intrusive thoughts may feel shame, “embarrassment, guilt, distress, torment, fear of acting on the thought or perceived impulse, and doubt about whether they have already acted in such a way.” Depression may be a result of the self-loathing that can occur, depending on how much the OCD interferes with daily functioning or causes distress. Their concern over these thoughts may cause them to scrutinize their bodies to determine if the thoughts result in feelings of arousal. However, focusing attention of any part of the body can result in feelings in that part of the body, hence doing so may decrease confidence and increase fear about acting on the urges. Part of treatment of sexual intrusive thoughts involves therapy to help sufferers accept intrusive thoughts and stop trying to reassure themselves by checking their bodies. This arousal in the part of the body is due to conditioned physiological responses in the brain, which do not respond to the subject of the sexual intrusive thought but rather to the fact that a sexual thought is occurring at all and thus engage an automatic response (research indicates that the correlation between what the genitalia regard as “sexually relevant” and what the brain regards as “sexually appealing” only correlates 50% of the time in men and 10% of the time in women). This means that an arousal response does not necessarily indicate that the person desires what they are thinking about. However, rational thinking processes attempt to explain this reaction and OCD causes people to attribute false meaning and importance to these physiological reactions in an attempt to make sense of them. Sufferers can also experience heightened anxiety caused by “forbidden” images or simply discussing the matter which can then also cause physiological arousal, such as sweating, increased heart rate and some degree of tumescence or lubrication. This is often misinterpreted by the sufferer as an indication of desire or intent, when it is in fact not.
Blasphemous thoughts are a common component of OCD, documented throughout history; notable religious figures such as Martin Luther and Ignatius of Loyola were known to be tormented by intrusive, blasphemous or religious thoughts and urges. Martin Luther had urges to curse God and Jesus, and was obsessed with images of “the Devil’s behind.” St. Ignatius had numerous obsessions, including the fear of stepping on pieces of straw forming a cross, fearing that it showed disrespect to Christ. A study of 50 patients with a primary diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder found that 40% had religious and blasphemous thoughts and doubts—a higher, but not statistically significantly different number than the 38% who had the obsessional thoughts related to dirt and contamination more commonly associated with OCD. One study suggests that content of intrusive thoughts may vary depending on culture, and that blasphemous thoughts may be more common in men than in women.
According to Fred Penzel, a New York psychologist, some common religious obsessions and intrusive thoughts are:
sexual thoughts about God, saints, and religious figures
bad thoughts or images during prayer or meditation
fears of sinning or breaking a religious law or performing a ritual incorrectly
fears of omitting prayers or reciting them incorrectly
repetitive and intrusive blasphemous thoughts
urges or impulses to say blasphemous words or commit blasphemous acts during religious services.
Suffering can be greater and treatment complicated when intrusive thoughts involve religious implications; patients may believe the thoughts are inspired by Satan, and may fear punishment from God or have magnified shame because they perceive themselves as sinful. Symptoms can be more distressing for sufferers with strong religious convictions or beliefs.
Baer believes that blasphemous thoughts are more common in Catholics and evangelicalProtestants than in other religions, whereas Jews or Muslims tend to have obsessions related more to complying with the laws and rituals of their faith, and performing the rituals perfectly. He hypothesizes that this is because what is considered inappropriate varies among cultures and religions, and intrusive thoughts torment their sufferers with whatever is considered most inappropriate in the surrounding culture.
Intrusive thoughts are associated with OCD or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, but may also occur with other conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression, postpartum depression, and anxiety. One of these conditions is almost always present in people whose intrusive thoughts reach a clinical level of severity. A large study published in 2005 found that aggressive, sexual, and religious obsessions were broadly associated with comorbid anxiety disorders and depression. The intrusive thoughts that occur in a schizophrenic episode differ from the obsessional thoughts that occur with OCD or depression in that the intrusive thoughts of schizophrenics are false or delusional beliefs (i.e. held by the schizophrenic individual to be real and not doubted, as is typically the case with intrusive thoughts) .
Post-traumatic stress disorder
The key difference between OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is that the intrusive thoughts of PTSD sufferers are of traumatic events that actually happened to them, whereas OCD sufferers have thoughts of imagined catastrophes. PTSD patients with intrusive thoughts have to sort out violent, sexual, or blasphemous thoughts from memories of traumatic experiences. When patients with intrusive thoughts do not respond to treatment, physicians may suspect past physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
People who are clinically depressed may experience intrusive thoughts more intensely, and view them as evidence that they are worthless or sinful people. The suicidal thoughts that are common in depression must be distinguished from intrusive thoughts, because suicidal thoughts—unlike harmless sexual, aggressive, or religious thoughts—can be dangerous.
Postpartum depression and OCD
Unwanted thoughts by mothers about harming infants are common in postpartum depression. A 1999 study of 65 women with postpartum major depression by Katherine Wisner et al. found the most frequent aggressive thought for women with postpartum depression was causing harm to their newborn infants. A study of 85 new parents found that 89% experienced intrusive images, for example, of the baby suffocating, having an accident, being harmed, or being kidnapped.
Some women may develop symptoms of OCD during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Postpartum OCD occurs mainly in women who may already have OCD, perhaps in a mild or undiagnosed form. Postpartum depression and OCD may be comorbid (often occurring together). And though physicians may focus more on the depressive symptoms, one study found that obsessive thoughts did accompany postpartum depression in 57% of new mothers.
Wisner found common obsessions about harming babies in mothers experiencing postpartum depression include images of the baby lying dead in a casket or being eaten by sharks; stabbing the baby; throwing the baby down the stairs; or drowning or burning the baby (as by submerging it in the bathtub in the former case or throwing it in the fire or putting it in the microwave in the latter). Baer estimates that up to 200,000 new mothers with postpartum depression each year may develop these obsessional thoughts about their babies; and because they may be reluctant to share these thoughts with a physician or family member, or suffer in silence and fear they are “crazy”, their depression can worsen.
Intrusive fears of harming immediate children can last longer than the postpartum period. A study of 100 clinically depressed women found that 41% had obsessive fears that they might harm their child, and some were afraid to care for their children. Among non-depressed mothers, the study found 7% had thoughts of harming their child—a rate that yields an additional 280,000 non-depressed mothers in the United States with intrusive thoughts about harming their children.
Exposure therapy is the treatment of choice for intrusive thoughts. According to Deborah Osgood-Hynes, Psy.D. Director of Psychological Services and Training at the MGH/McLean OCD Institute, “In order to reduce a fear, you have to face a fear. This is true of all types of anxiety and fear reactions, not just OCD.” Because it is uncomfortable to experience bad thoughts and urges, shame, doubt or fear, the initial reaction is usually to do something to make the feelings diminish. By engaging in a ritual or compulsion to diminish the anxiety or bad feeling, the action is strengthened via a process called negative reinforcement—the mind learns that the way to avoid the bad feeling is by engaging in a ritual or compulsions. When OCD becomes severe, this leads to more interference in life and continues the frequency and severity of the thoughts the person sought to avoid.
Exposure therapy (or exposure and response prevention) is the practice of staying in an anxiety-provoking or feared situation until the distress or anxiety diminishes. The goal is to reduce the fear reaction, learning to not react to the bad thoughts. This is the most effective way to reduce the frequency and severity of the intrusive thoughts. The goal is to be able to “expose yourself to the thing that most triggers your fear or discomfort for one to two hours at a time, without leaving the situation, or doing anything else to distract or comfort you.” Exposure therapy will not completely eliminate intrusive thoughts—everyone has bad thoughts—but most patients find that it can decrease their thoughts sufficiently that intrusive thoughts no longer interfere with their lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a newer therapy than exposure therapy, available for those unable or unwilling to undergo exposure therapy. Cognitive therapy has been shown to be useful in reducing intrusive thoughts, but developing a conceptualization of the obsessions and compulsions with the patient is important.
Antidepressants or antipsychotic medications may be used for more severe cases if intrusive thoughts do not respond to cognitive behavioral or exposure therapy alone. Whether the cause of intrusive thoughts is OCD, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs (a class of antidepressants) are the most commonly prescribed. Intrusive thoughts may occur in persons with Tourette syndrome (TS) who also have OCD; the obsessions in TS-related OCD are thought to respond to SSRI drugs as well.
Antidepressants which have been shown to be effective in treating OCD include fluvoxamine (trade name[a] Luvox), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), and clomipramine (Anafranil). Although SSRIs are known to be effective for OCD in general, there have been fewer studies on their effectiveness for intrusive thoughts. A retrospective chart review of patients with sexual symptoms treated with SSRIs showed the greatest improvement was in those with intrusive sexual obsessions typical of OCD. A study of ten patients with religious or blasphemous obsessions found that most patients responded to treatment with fluoxetine or clomipramine. Women with postpartum depression often have anxiety as well, and may need lower starting doses of SSRIs; they may not respond fully to the medication, and may benefit from adding cognitive behavioral or response prevention therapy.
Studies suggest that therapeutic doses of inositol may be useful in the treatment of obsessive thoughts.
A 2007 study found that 78% of a clinical sample of OCD patients had intrusive images. Most people who suffer from intrusive thoughts have not identified themselves as having OCD, because they may not have what they believe to be classic symptoms of OCD, such as handwashing. Yet, epidemiological studies suggest that intrusive thoughts are the most common kind of OCD worldwide; if people in the United States with intrusive thoughts gathered, they would form the fourth-largest city in the US, following New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The prevalence of OCD in every culture studied is at least 2% of the population, and the majority of those have obsessions, or bad thoughts, only; this results in a conservative estimate of more than 2 million sufferers in the United States alone (as of 2000). One author estimates that one in 50 adults have OCD and about 10–20% of these have sexual obsessions. A recent study found that 25% of 293 patients with a primary diagnosis of OCD had a history of sexual obsessions.
The World Health Organization reported that zinc deficiency has become quite common in the recent years. It is a widespread epidemic that affects the well-being and health of many populations.
The average American goes on with their daily routine surrounded by multivitamin supplements and fortified foods at every supermarket in the country. As a result, they have become stranger to various global health problems that affect millions of people on a daily basis.
Studies show that zinc deficiency is actually a common micronutrient deficiency. It is associated with intellectual impairments, poor growth, perinatal complications and increased risk of mortality and morbidity.
As the name suggests, zinc deficiency is a condition when the body does not have the recommended amount of zinc for proper functioning.
Zinc is critical to maintaining our body’s immune system. It is essential for gene transcription; apoptosis, which is responsible for killing dangerous bacteria in our body; the growth of T cells and other protective functions of our cell membranes.
Poor Neuropsychologic Performance
An individual that has low zinc levels will most likely experience motor disorders and poor neuropsychologic performance. In order to experience growth in the neurological function, one must have to balance the consumption of zinc and other nutrients.
Zinc deficiency has been associated with hair loss in the past. According to researchers, low zinc levels can cause hypothyroidism, which is the thinning of hair. There have been studies in India that claim thyroid hormones play in important role in the successful zinc absorption of the body.
Rashes and Acne
Various skin issues can also be linked to low zinc levels in the body. Those who do not consume enough zinc on a daily basis may develop skin rashes and acne. This is because the wound healing process is affected and delayed due to the lack of zinc in the body.
Intestinal permeability also referred to as a leaky gut, is a sign that your body is not consuming enough zinc. There have been clinical studies showing how zinc can tighten the gut.
Unlike dogs, cats do not have a sweet tooth. Scientists believe this is due to a mutation in a key taste receptor.
When a cat chases its prey, it keeps its head level. Dogs and humans bob their heads up and down.
The technical term for a cat’s hairball is a “bezoar.”
A group of cats is called a “clowder.”
A cat can’t climb head first down a tree because every claw on a cat’s paw points the same way. To get down from a tree, a cat must back down.
Cats make about 100 different sounds. Dogs make only about 10.
Every year, nearly four million cats are eaten in Asia.
There are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with approximately 40 recognized breeds.
Approximately 24 cat skins can make a coat.
While it is commonly thought that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats, the oldest known pet cat was recently found in a 9,500-year-old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. This grave predates early Egyptian art depicting cats by 4,000 years or more.
During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Pope Innocent VIII condemned cats as evil and thousands of cats were burned. Unfortunately, the widespread killing of cats led to an explosion of the rat population, which exacerbated the effects of the Black Death.
During the Middle Ages, cats were associated with withcraft, and on St. John’s Day, people all over Europe would stuff them into sacks and toss the cats into bonfires. On holy days, people celebrated by tossing cats from church towers.
The first cat in space was a French cat named Felicette (a.k.a. “Astrocat”) In 1963, France blasted the cat into outer space. Electrodes implanted in her brains sent neurological signals back to Earth. She survived the trip.
The group of words associated with cat (catt, cath, chat, katze) stem from the Latin catus, meaning domestic cat, as opposed to feles, or wild cat.
The term “puss” is the root of the principal word for “cat” in the Romanian term pisica and the root of secondary words in Lithuanian (puz) and Low German puus. Some scholars suggest that “puss” could be imitative of the hissing sound used to get a cat’s attention. As a slang word for the female pudenda, it could be associated with the connotation of a cat being soft, warm, and fuzzy.
Approximately 40,000 people are bitten by cats in the U.S. annually.
Cats are North America’s most popular pets: there are 73 million cats compared to 63 million dogs. Over 30% of households in North America own a cat.
According to Hebrew legend, Noah prayed to God for help protecting all the food he stored on the ark from being eaten by rats. In reply, God made the lion sneeze, and out popped a cat.
A cat’s hearing is better than a dog’s. And a cat can hear high-frequency sounds up to two octaves higher than a human.
A cat can travel at a top speed of approximately 31 mph (49 km) over a short distance.
Abraham Lincoln turned down the chance to host elephants
In 1861, the King of Siam offered to gift President Lincoln ‘several pairs of young male and female elephants,’ which were indigenous to his country (today we know it as Thailand). The elephants could be bred to multiply, the king suggested, and the herds could be used as ‘beasts of burden’ that could work alongside the military during the Civil War. The president politely declined the offer, opting to use steam power instead of animal labor.
Gerald Ford modeled on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine
Before he became our nation’s 38th president, Gerald Ford had a side gig as a model. In 1942, shortly after joining the Navy, he landed an uncredited spot on the cover of Cosmopolitan in his uniform. Another fun fact? It was during this time that he met and went on to marry a fellow model, Elizabeth Bloomer. She became known to Americans as First Lady Betty Ford.
John Quincy Adams approved a real-life journey to the center of the Earth
Ever hear of President David Rice Atchison? If the answer is no, that’s probably because he was only ‘president’ for a day. In 1849, the inauguration of Zachary Taylor landed on a Sunday, and the religious incumbent refused to be sworn in on a holy day. He had Atchison stand in for him.
Presidents’ Day is technically called Washington’s Birthday
Presidents’ Day has a more complex history than one would think. After George Washington died in 1799, his supporters recognized his birthday as a day of remembrance. In 1885, his birthday became a federal holiday for the whole country. Later, in 1968, a new bill made certain federal holidays on Mondays and combined birthday celebrations for Washington and Lincoln for a ‘Presidents’ Day.’ According to the United States Code, however, that holiday is technically still called Washington’s Birthday and never officially changed to Presidents’ Day. Federal code permits local governments and private businesses to name federal holidays whatever they want, so most states call it Presidents’ Day.
Pets are one of life’s great joys. According to the National Institutes of Health, some 68 percent of American households have a pet, and their benefits are countless, from getting active to boosting mood. But as wonderful as our furry (or scaly, or feathered) friends are, there are certain health risks that come with having an animal in your home.
“Zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) are those that can be transmitted between animals and people,” explains Christa Gallagher, BSC, DVM, an assistant professor of public health and epidemiology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. “Animals, whether wild or domesticated, can transmit harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi to humans.”
“Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma Gondii) is a parasitic infection in which cats are the main source of infection,” explains Dr. Gallagher. While healthy people don’t typically contract the disease, it can cause serious health complications for pregnant women and immunocompromised people. Be sure to change the cat litter frequently (once a day if anyone has a weakened immune system in the house), and thoroughly wash your hands afterward. Pregnant women should avoid changing the cat litter altogether. Keeping your cat indoors will also help prevent them from contracting it.
Symptoms in pets: Cats don’t typically show symptoms of toxoplasmosis. Kittens, who are more vulnerable, may get diarrhea.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll contract rabies from your pet (it’s most commonly contracted from wild animals like raccoons and bats), it’s within the realm of possibility since it is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. “The disease is most commonly contracted through a bite, although potentially it could be transmitted through a scratch as well,” says Gary Richter, MS, DVM, a veterinary health expert with Rover.com. “Although human exposure to rabies from a dog is uncommon, it’s worth noting since rabies is almost 100 percent fatal if the person is not treated immediately after exposure.” The best way to prevent it is to keep your pet up-to-date with their vaccines.
Symptoms in pets: Foaming at the mouth is the most common sign of rabies, but other symptoms could include behavioral changes, fever, hypersensitivity to touch, light, and sound, hiding in dark places, staggering, loss of appetite, and seizures.
You’re probably aware that you can get salmonella from raw or undercooked poultry, but did you know you can get it from your pets? “This infection can also be caused by the bacteria that live on the skin of pet reptiles,” warns Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles. Jory D. Lange Jr, a food safety lawyer, also says they have seen cases of pet hedgehogs, backyard chickens, and dog food causing salmonella outbreaks.
To avoid it, wash your hands well after handling reptiles, especially after feeding them. Be sure to also clean pet toys and bedding outside.
Symptoms in pets: Reptiles don’t typically present with symptoms of salmonella, says Dr. Shainhouse.
“Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is shed in the urine of infected animals. Our pets can contract this infection from ground water that is contaminated by infected wildlife. Though this infection does require contact with infected urine, it’s much easier than you may think to inadvertently come in contact with your pet’s urine,” says Johanna Reel, NHV Natural Pet’s in-house registered veterinary technician. Get your pet vaccinated against the disease, and don’t swim in water that may be contaminated with animal urine.
Symptoms in pets: Some animals won’t show signs of leptospirosis, while others may have fever, vomiting, diarrhea, refusal to eat, depression, infertility, and other symptoms.
Most commonly contracted from the feces of dogs but sometimes from cats, toxocariasis is a parasitic disease from the larvae of toxocara roundworms. Dr. Shainhouse says, “Be careful to use gloves or a plastic bag or shovel to clean up doggy poop, and wash your hands well afterward.”
Symptoms in pets: Diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stool, worms seen in the stool
“While you can contract this by eating undercooked pork, you can also contract this from an infected pet,” explains Dr. Shainhouse. It is contracted via oral-fecal transmission through direct contact with pet stool (which is more common than you may think). You can prevent contracting tapeworm by handling animal feces with gloves or a shovel, and washing your hands thoroughly.
Symptoms in pets: According to Dr. Shainhouse, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rice-like pieces in the stool, fatigue, hunger or loss of appetite, and longer worms in vomit are signs of tapeworm. She says that pets with tapeworm also often drag their bottoms along the ground.
“Ringworm, which is a fungal disease (despite the deceptive name), grows on hair follicles. It is transmitted through direct contact,” explains Dr. Richter. Cleaning your pet’s bedding regularly, frequently washing your hands, vacuuming, and disinfecting are your best bets for avoiding ringworm.
Symptoms in pets: Animals get the same circular lesion as humans, but it can be difficult to see under their fur so look out for signs like red lesions, crusty skin, and patchy hair.
“This bacterial infection is caused by Bartonella henselae, which is carried by kittens. It is transmitted to humans via a scratch from the infected animal,” explains Dr. Shainhouse. According to the CDC, 30 to 40 percent of adopted shelter cats have documented cases of cat scratch fever. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk, so they may want to hold off getting a kitten less than a year old, since they’re more likely to get the infection. If you do get scratched, wash the area immediately.
Symptoms in pets: Cats usually don’t show any symptoms but in some cases may have a fever, and in rare cases, may have labored breathing, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, red eyes, and/or decreased appetite. And despite the name, dogs can also get cat scratch fever and may show signs of fever, arrhythmia, and inflammation of the heart (endocarditis).
“Pets can also pass some parasites on to their humans,” says Dr. Reel. “Giardia is a common intestinal parasitic microorganism, which causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms. This parasite can be spread through contact with contaminated water or contact with infected fecal matter.
Symptoms in pets: Painful gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting are common.
Not to be confused with human scabies, pet scabies can’t truly be spread to humans, but can cause some discomfort. “In pet scabies, the animal is the only viable host for the mite, meaning the mite only lives on the pet,” explains Dr. Shainhouse. “However, the mite can jump off of the pet, bite the human owner, then jump back home (aka, the pet’s skin).” The best way to protect you and your dog is to avoid having your dog around other animals that have it.
Symptoms in pets: Pet scabies can affect your pet-typically dogs-with severe itching, rash, blisters, and sores.
Camp-what? The name may be hard to pronounce, but the CDC estimates that Campylobacter is the top cause of bacterial diarrheal illness in the country. Though it’s typically contracted from raw or undercooked poultry, pets can also spread it. “Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial disease cause by Campylobacter species. Fecal-oral transmission can result in gastrointestinal symptoms in most healthy persons. More serious infections can occur if a person is very young, elderly, or immunocompromised,” says Dr. Gallagher.
That’s why it’s important to wash your hands frequently, especially if you come in contact with animal feces.
Symptoms in pets: Most common in puppies younger than six months old. Fever, vomiting, and enlarged lymph nodes are possible symptoms in your dog.
Although our furry friends get the brunt of the diseases that can be passed on to humans, our scaled sidekicks aren’t without their possible infections. Mycobacterium Marinum grows in fish tanks and can be spread to humans. “It is commonly seen in people who put their ungloved hands into fish tanks (like when you clean out your pet’s tank),” explains Dr. Shainhouse. So be sure to wear gloves when scooping out fish and cleaning the fish tank.
Yet another canine parasite, hookworms suck on the intestinal lining of dogs. The eggs in the pet feces could transfer through the skin if you come in contact with it. Thoroughly washing your hands will go a long way, especially after curbing your dog.
“Dog and cat bites that pierce human skin can cause severe skin infection and cellulitis if not treated immediately,” warns Dr. Shainhouse. “Cats’ mouths carry Pasturella multocida, while dogs carry Staphylococcus, Streptomyces and Capnocytophaga sp.” Avoid rough play with your pets or other animals that might result in them taking an unintentional nibble of your skin.
Though it’s not totally a disease, contact dermatitis is an irritating side effect of having pets for some people. “Pet kisses may be a sign of affection or loyalty, but it can cause skin irritation in humans,” says Dr. Shainhouse.
“If you are crazy enough to have a pet tarantula, know that they are not soft and fuzzy. Their ‘fur’ is actually spines that can be shed as protection when they are afraid or in fighting mode. These spines can prickle your skin and cause an irritant dermatitis.”
Take preventative measures especially if you have sensitive skin, like washing up after getting licked by your pet to prevent a rash.
Symptoms in pets: None
Symptoms in humans: Skin irritation, rash, and itchiness.Vets reveal the most dangerous diseases pets can give you Pets are one of life’s great joys. According to the National Institutes of Health, some 68 percent of American households have a pet, and their benefits are countless, from getting active to boosting mood. But as wonderful as our furry (or scaly, or feathered) friends are, there are certain health risks that come with having an animal in your home.
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