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kennel worker with HIV - risks of cat and dog exposure
Jun 18, 2006

Hi Dr. Thanks for the site Its been a great help so far.

I tested poz. here 2 weeks ago. I dont know what my labs say yet thay will be in in about a week and a half. As far as I know iam pretty healty otherwise I'm getting great care, and slowely working thru all the rest of it. Its been hard...I am however in a kind of hyper protective mode here probely normal reaction here with such new news.

Not sure what to do about a working condition I have. I'm a house cleaner by traid for years. its been been a greatly successfull business. I am concerned about working in some of my houses as one in paticular has a large kennel with up to 24 dogs and 3 cats 1 bird. and nurmous boarding animals on any giving day. I ware gloves for any houses I clean thats a given. But now that I'm HIV+ and working in that inviroment is it just best to let the place go. I can afford to take the loss no prob. but tired of being consistenly exposed to droppings and uriune all over the house. Would you agree that this procausion is prudent. Even if I did continue to work there the situation would not change. I have tried before to address the problem. And right now I dont want people other then those of my choice knowing my medical situation.

Response from Dr. Pierone

I am sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis of HIV infection and wish you the best.

There are some animal-related workplace hazards that are important for HIV-infected individuals to know about if their employment involves animal exposure. A "zoonosis" is the medical term for an infectious agent which can be transmitted from and animal to a human.

Toxoplasmosis is the most recognized disease that cats may transmit to humans. But the data which are available suggest the actual risk of cat ownership is very low. Most human cases of toxoplasmosis are probably transmitted from consumption of undercooked pork, beef, or lamb. About 15% of HIV-infected patients in the United States (up to 50% in Europe) have evidence of previous toxoplasmosis infection. Once acquired, this infection remains dormant and may reactivate in the setting of low CD4 counts. HIV-infected individuals who are not already infected with toxoplasmosis should avoid consumption of undercooked pork, beef, and lamb and use gloves when changing cat liter boxes in order to avoid this infection.

Cat scratch disease is another zoonosis most typically associated with a cat bite or scratch or exposure to cat fleas. The causative organism is a bacterium called Bartonella henselae and it usually produces localized lymph node involvement, but may become a widespread infection in severely immune-compromised patients.

With regard to dogs, the roundworm Toxocara canis may infect humans (typically children ages 1 to 5) and produce an infection called visceral larva migrans. This infection may be prevented by using gloves handling dog feces.

Here is a link to a more extensive list of potential infections that are relevant for HIV-infected patients, although it is somewhat dated.

Getting back to your situation, from the tone of your post, it sounds like you are not keen to continue to work in an unsanitary environment. Given your recent HIV diagnosis it seems reasonable to let this job go and move on to something else. Best of luck to you and let us know how things turn out.



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