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Are animals a danger to HIV+s?
Mar 16, 2001

I want to invite my HIV+ friend to an event to be held at a sort of indoor botanical garden that has monkeys, parrots, etc. Could these creatures present a danger to his health? Also, are there any pets that are particularly safe or unsafe for HIV+ people? Any special rules he should follow regarding contact with pets?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

It depends. Common household pets (dogs, cats) pose no special danger, but kittens less than 6 months old can carry toxoplasma, so HIV+s should be extra careful to wear gloves to change litter boxes and wash their hands if there are kittens around. Reptiles cna carry a form of the bacteria Salmonella, which can cause serious infection in people with impaired immune systems, and should be avoided. Parrots and other psittacene birds can carry psittacosis, to which even people with normal immune systems are vulnerable, and so should also be avoided. I can't readily think about other threats related to animals, especially the kinds one is likely to contact in a home environment. In general, scrupulous hand-washing after contact with animals is all that an HIV+ (or HIV-) person usually needs to do.


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