Though dogs harbor a variety of diseases that are communicable to man, the actual transmission of dog diseases to man is relatively rare. However, it is a sensible precaution to have the animal examined periodically by a veterinarian in order that the possibility of disease transmission be reduced to its barest minimum. If the animal is kept clean, well fed, and in a constant state of vigor, it is very likely that the owner will never be faced with the problem of disease transmission.
Listing these diseases is about all that we can do. You will read names that you probably never heard before and will very likely never hear again. In any case, if you should ever come across them, you will be at least vaguely aware that you have heard them before. In a book devoted to dog health -even in a popular one such as this-the reader has a right to know that there are certain diseases that dogs can communicate to man, and he should be told what they are.
Rabies is the most serious transmissible affliction and is passed on through the bite of a rabid animal. If all bite cases are reported, and if the animals involved are examined, no further difficulty will ordinarily be encountered since rabies in man is easily cured. We will have a special word about rabies in the dog in a later chapter.
Leptospirosis is another disease that is becoming an increasing problem, and humans can be infected by the dog organism.
Among the transmissible internal parasites are the common dog tapeworm, the guinea worm, several species of flukes, and-most dangerous-an echinococcus tapeworm species that spends its adult life in the intestine of the dog.
Of the three forms of mange, sarcoptic mange is transmissible, and man may be infected, but rather uncommonly, by various ringworm parasites that occur in dogs.
Though the appearance in dogs of tuberculosis, anthrax, glanders, foot and mouth disease, and trichinosis does not constitute a serious threat to man, the possibility of their transmission by way of the dog is conceivable.
Rat-bite fever and other rodent infections may be transmitted with the dog acting as a mechanical carrier.
Dog sporotrichosis is probably not very significant, while the chief reservoir of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Bou-tonneuse fever is in the dog. Dogs have been reported to be susceptible to the scarlet fever organism and may be partly responsible for the spread of this disease.
Other diseases that the dog may transmit are lymphocytic choriomeningitis, various forms of typhus, South African tick fever, Q fever, Tsutsugamushi disease, brucellosis, diphtheria, hemorrhagic septicemia, salmonellosis, tularemia and a large variety of diseases caused by parasites.
This sounds like a formidable list of diseases and some of the names sound outlandish enough to trouble the spirit of even the boldest among us. But let me repeat: the bark is worse than the bite. The fact remains that the transmission of dog diseases to man is quite rare.