ZocdocAnswersDoes the presence of animals increase the likelihood of sickness in children?

Question

Does the presence of animals increase the likelihood of sickness in children?

Does having several animals in the house increase a child's risk for any kind of illness? I know allergies can be a problem, but that's not exactly what I mean. Isn't it true that a lot of bacteria and viruses can 'jump' between humans and animals? If so, should we wait to bring kids into out home?

Answer

The answer to your question may vary between physicians. The vast majority of physicians would not recommend that you got rid of a pet while pregnant or with small children in a house. The risk of an animal passing a viral or bacterial infection onto a child is extremely low. The exception to this statement is if the animal bites or scratches the child, then the risk of contracting and infection is much higher. However, this exception aside, I don't think having a friendly dog or cat in the house will pose any infectious risk to your child. With that said, there are some recommendations physicians have stuck to regarding cats and pregnant women. Cat feces has the potential to contain Toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can cause horrible birth defects. There is a very small theoretical chance that if a pregnant woman is exposed to cat feces that she will contract the parasite and cause the baby harm. Of course the allergy aspect of things is different. If you have a child that is allergic to an animal, it may be detrimental to their health in the long run to have the animal around. I suggest you schedule an appointment with your family doctor and bring this issue up with them. Likely he or she will have some recommendations that are specific to the types of pets you have. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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