Pet owners may consider their dog or cat to be a member of the family, but they may want to draw the line at bed sharing to avoid getting infections from their pet. That's the conclusion of a report published today in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers from the University of California list a host of bizarre-sounding cases where owners came down with parasitic bugs, bacterial sinus infections, and even meningitis after sleeping with, kissing, and being licked frequently by their dog or cat.
One case involved a 48-year-old man and his wife who came down with life-threatening recurrent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections over and over again until their dog was finally tested and found to be the carrier of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. "The couple reported that the dog routinely slept in their bed and frequently licked their faces," the researchers wrote.
About one in five dog owners said in a 2005 survey conducted by the American Kennel Club that their dog shares their bed with them -- and women were slightly more likely than men to embrace the practice. Another 16 percent reported that their dogs crept into their beds at least once in a while.
When it comes to cats, bed-sharing is even more common: a full 62 percent of cat owners said their felines slept with them, while another 16 percent said their cats leapt into bed with their kids.
While the likelihood of owners getting infected from their pets remains pretty small, the study authors recommend being on the safe side: Keep your bed free of pets -- especially if you have a condition that lowers your immune system. And never allow young children to sleep with animals. If your pet lick an open wound, immediately wash it with soap and water.
Other precautions to take: Keep your pet free of skin parasites (especially fleas), routinely dewormed, and regularly examined by a veterinarian.
June 6, 2011
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff Bean sprouts are likely to blame for the E. coli outbreak in Germany …
June 4, 2011
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff A drug that blocks production of the hormone estrogen cut breast …
June 10, 2011
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff Quick quiz: What's the most dangerous spot in the house? Sure, kitche …
June 9, 2011
By Elizabeth Comeau, Boston.com Staff loading video... (please wait a moment)Requires Adobe Flash …
May 16, 2011
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff No question, most of us sit way too much, and that's not good for our …
April 26, 2011
By Elizabeth Comeau, Boston.com Staff Last week, I asked you how you find the time to stay …
June 10, 2011
Greene, Bill Globe Staff/The Boston Globe By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff I was bummed to hear th …
June 6, 2011
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff A new research finding could help parents and public health specialis …