Health Concerns


Diseases Spread by Feces Contact:

Campylobacter:  A bacterial disease causing diarrhea which is acquired by ingesting animal feces or water and foodstuffs contaminated by infected feces.

Salmonellosis:  Is probably the most common disease spread from animal to man.  A bacterial disease of the intestinal tract causing diarrhea as a primary symptom.  Spread to humans through the ingestion of infected feces or water and foodstuffs that have been contaminated.  Almost all mammals and some birds and reptiles can have salmonella organisms in their feces.

Shigellosis:  A bacterial disease producing a potentially severe diarrhea which include signs of weakness and dehydration.  The usual hosts for this organism are non human primates (monkeys) and it is spread via the fecal-oral route.  This disease closely resembles a salmonella infection and is typically difficult to diagnose in humans unless there is a suspicion of exposure to an infected primate.

Giardiasis:  A protozoan disease of intestinal tract leading to diarrhea which can be intermittent and very chronic.  Organisms are obtained by ingestion of contaminated feces or foodstuffs contaminated by feces.  It can also be obtained from drinking water that has been contaminated.  (such as from ponds)

Amoebiasis:  A protozoan disease of the intestinal tract leading to diarrhea.  It is obtained by ingestion of contaminated feces or food stuffs and water.

Toxoplasmosis:  A protozoan infection spread most likely by cat feces, but also obtainable from undercooked meals.  This disease leads to general malaise or flu like symptoms in most people as the parasites migrate through the body tissues.

Tetanus:  A bacterial infection in wounds contaminated with the organisms which are common in the feces of many animals.  Humans develop a rigid muscle paralysis due to the absorption of a toxin produced by the clostridial bacteria growing in a wound.

Psittacosis:  A bacterial infection obtained by inhaling the aerosolized bacteria from infected bird feces.  Pigeons, Parrots, Parakeets and Lovebirds have been implicated in human infections.  In humans, this disease is usually manifest as a respiratory illness of varying degrees.

Visceral Larval Migrans:  A condition that results from the migration of parasite larvae through the body tissues of an animal.  As a general group, the roundworms (ascarids) are a set of parasites in which visceral larval migrans is a routine part of their life cycle.  In humans, visceral larval migrans has been associated with the ingestion of animal feces or soil heavily contaminated with ascarid eggs.  Cat, dog, pig and raccoon ascarids are four roundworms implicated in human cases of visceral larval migrans.  A person with visceral larval migrans can have symptoms ranging from mild abdominal upset and discomfort to a more generalized soreness. These are cases of central nervous system inflammation due to ascarids migrating into spine, brain or even the eyes.
Dog ascarid is Toxocara canis.
Cat ascarid is Toxocara cati.
Pig ascarid is Ascaris suum.
Raccoon ascarid is Bayliascaris procyonis.

Histoplasmosis:  A fungal infection which is probably the most common systemic fungal infection in man and dogs in North America.  The fungus is most commonly found in surface soil heavily contaminated with the droppings from birds such as pigeons, starlings and chickens.  This disease can also be obtained from bat feces.  Victims are infected by inhalation of the fungus with dust particals when the contaminated soil is disturbed.  Signs of the disease include respiratory problems due to lung infection, or a more generalized problem such as lymph node enlargement.  The liver and spleen may also be swollen.  In addition, the disease may affect the intestinal tract leading to problems such as diarrhea and weight loss.

Biastomycosis:  A fungal infection affecting man and dogs primarily.  The disease is acquired by inhalation of spores from disturbed soil contaminated by this organism.  Lung infections are the first stage of this disease, but it may become more widespread leading to swelling of the lymph nodes.

Diseases Spread by Urine Contact:

Leptospirosis:  A bacterial disease spread by contact with animal urine.  Most mammalian species can carry this disease.  Symptoms range from fever and malaise to meningitis with jaundice.

Diseases Spread by Bites:

Rabies:  A viral disease spread primarily through the saliva of affected animals.  Any mammalian species can be infected with rabies virus.  The carnivores and bats are the highest incidence carriers with risk of exposure to man.  Human infections are basically fatal once established.


Brucellosis:  A bacterial disease contractible from uterine discharges, aborted fetuses, milk, and substances contaminated by these sources.  Ingestion or inhalation of bacteria from a contaminated source is the usual route of infection for animals and people.  Cattle, swine, sheep, goats and dogs are the most likely sources of infections.  In humans, the disease is usually manifested as a fever and a severe malaise.  The problem can be very debilitating, prolonged and recurrent.  There is not any specific curative treatment yet available for brucellosis. (formally called “undulant fever”)

The incidence of reported rabies in raccoons and other wildlife has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. Raccoons have recently been identified as the major wildlife host of rabies in the United States, primarily due to increased prevalence in the eastern United States.