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January 24, 2011

Could cuddling in bed with your doggy be hazardous to your health?

The authors of a new study suggest it might be. 

Pet lovers, I know what you're thinking: Kick the world's cutest doggy out of the bed? (Yes, you are! Yes, you are!) That's absurd. Well, the paper coming out in the February in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases documents cases where humans were likely infected with diseases through their beloved pets.

Even the most well-groomed and healthy-looking pets can carry dangerous bacteria, parasites and viruses that could causes serious illness, the report warns.

The study, which examined illnesses thought to be transmitted by pets in countries around the globe, runs down some pretty creepy examples. A 69-year-old man whose cat licked his hip replacement wound came down with meningitis. And a 9-year-old boy with a cat with fleas got plague. You read that correctly.

The study is quick to point out that zoonotic infections, as they are known, are rare. Good hygiene is key to keeping the risk of infection down, the report states.

But the risk of getting sick from sleeping with, kissing, or being licked by pets is real, especially considering that more than 60 percent of American households have a pet, the study states. According to one survey, among dog owners, 53 percent snuggle up with their pooch and among adult cat owners, 62 percent let their kitty sleep with them.

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Medical studies


The title of the article indicates that cuddling in bed with your "doggie" can be dangerous but the article itself only gives examples of how cats can be harmful...

Could sleeping with other human beings be hazardous to your heaith?
Did you ever hear of people getting infected by venereal diseases? Or colds, the flu, tuberculosis, HIV, Cholera, etc., etc.?
Of course that infected human beings and animals can transmit some nasty diseases to us, so that is nothing new.

Does that mean we should live inside a sterile bubble? Is that what the author is implying?

Should people stop sleeping with their dogs? I don't think so, unless they keep their dogs unhealthy and full of fleas, of course.

The article does nothing but to put fear on pet owners.

Come on people! Really? After watching the show "Animal Hoarders". If none of them are in the hospital, I think the average american household with one or two pets is going to okay.

Good comment Phil about the fact that the article under a dog headline cites only cat examples.

While the journal article may identify diseases not previously identified as being transferrable from pets, it is not really a revelation that pets can transmit diseases.

My main concern is that this is about a journal article that apparently will only "document cases" where illnesses have been transmitted, but documenting cases is just providing anecdotal information. That kind of information is of very limited public health value because it does not tell you how widespread the problem is, how much risk there is of disease, or how it compares to other communicable disease risk factors such as having school-aged children (not that I have anything against kids). It doesn't provide enough information for people to make an informed choice.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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