A new study has found that the source of the next killer disease could be your beloved cat or dog. According to the Daily Mail, scientists have found that the risk of companion animals spreading a disease to humans has been on the rise since pets have become regularly domesticated.
Michael Day, Professor of Veterinary Pathology in the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol, led the study, which found that pet parents are putting themselves at higher risk for disease by allowing their pets to sleep inside their bedroom. Phys.org noted that the study also found that “most of the major new diseases of mankind will have an animal origin, and dogs and cats are a potential source of such ‘emerging diseases.’”
Day said in the study: “The number of small companion animals is significant. (There) are an estimated eight to 10 million dogs living in up to 31 percent of U.K. homes and in the U.S., 72 million dogs in 37 percent of homes. In developed countries the relationship between man and dogs and cats has deepened, with these animals now closely sharing the human indoor environment.”
The study was backed by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) One Health Committee, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO), who recommend starting a global disease monitoring system to study veterinarians who work in small companion animal practices. Findings from a study such as that could provide scientists the information they need to potentially reduce in the risk of disease human-animal relationships.
“The benefits of pet ownership on human health, well-being and development are unquestionable,” Day said. “But as dogs and cats have moved from the barn, to the house, to the bedroom, the potential for disease spread to humans increases.”
Day recognizes that pets play an important role in family life, but since there currently isn’t a system in place to monitor infections transmitted between small companion animals and humans, he insists on creating the system that the WSAVA, OIE and WHO recommended.