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Preventing Infections From Pets

June 21, 2007


  • You do not have to give up your pet.
  • Although the risks are low, you can get an infection from pets or other animals.
  • Several simple precautions are all you need to take with pets or other animals.
  • HIV can not be spread by, or to, cats, dogs, birds, or other pets.

Should I keep my pets?

Should I Keep My Pets?Yes. Most people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can and should keep their pets. Owning a pet can be rewarding. Pets can help you feel psychologically and even physically better. For many people, pets are more than just animals ? they are like members of the family. However, you should know the health risks of owning a pet or caring for animals. Animals may carry infections that can be harmful to you. Your decision to own or care for pets should be based on knowing what you need to do to protect yourself from these infections.


What kinds of infections could I get from an animal?

Animals can have cryptosporidiosis ("crypto"), toxoplasmosis ("toxo"), Mycobacterium avium complex ("MAC"), and other diseases. These diseases can give you problems like severe diarrhea, brain infections, and skin lesions. You can learn more about many of these diseases and how to prevent them from other brochures in this series. These are listed at the end of this brochure.


What can I do to protect myself from infections spread by animals?

What Can I Do to Protect Myself From Infections Spread by Animals?

*If you are bitten, you may need to seek medical advice.


I have a job that involves working with animals. Should I quit?

Jobs working with animals (such as jobs in pet stores, animal clinics, farms, and slaughterhouses) carry a risk for infections. Talk with your doctor about whether you should work with animals. People who work with animals should take these extra precautions:

I have a job that involves working with animals. Should I quit?


Can someone with HIV give it to their pets?

No. HIV can not be spread to, from, or by cats, dogs, birds, or other pets. Many viruses cause diseases that are like AIDS, such as feline leukemia virus, or FeLV, in cats. These viruses cause illness only in a certain animal and cannot infect other animals or humans. For example, FeLV infects only cats. It does not infect humans or dogs.


Are there any tests a pet should have before I bring it home?

A pet should be in overall good health. You don't need special tests unless the animal has diarrhea or looks sick. If your pet looks sick, your veterinarian can help you choose the tests it needs.


What should I do when I visit friends or relatives who have animals?

When you visit anyone with pets, take the same precautions you would in your own home. Don't touch animals that may not be healthy. You may want to tell your friends and family about the need for these precautions before you plan any visits.


Should children with HIV handle pets?

The same precautions apply for children as for adults. However, children may want to snuggle more with their pets. Some pets, like cats, may bite or scratch to get away from children. Adults should be extra watchful and supervise an HIV-infected child's handwashing to prevent infections.


For more information, call

Free referrals and information:

CDC-INFO 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) TTY: 1-888-232-6348 In English, en Espa?ol 24 Hours/Day

Free materials:

CDC National Prevention Information Network
(800) 458-5231
1-301-562-1098 (International)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003

Free HIV/AIDS treatment information:

AIDSinfo
(800) 448-0440
Project Inform
(800) 822-7422

Drugs undergoing clinical trials:

AIDSinfo
(800) 448-0440

Social Security benefits:

Social Security Administration
(800) 772-1213
(You also may request a personal earnings and benefit estimate statement to help you estimate the retirement, disability, and survivor benefits payable on your Social Security record.)
Child Health Insurance Program
1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669)
CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Internet address: www.cdc.gov/hiv/

Additional brochures in the Opportunisitic Infections Series:




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