Science Inventory

Self-reported acute health symptoms and exposure to companion animals

Citation:

Krueger, W., E Hilborn, A. Dufour, E. Sams, AND Tim Wade. Self-reported acute health symptoms and exposure to companion animals. Zoonoses and Public Health. Blackwell Verlag GmbH, Berlin, Germany, 63(4):311-19, (2016).

Impact/Purpose:

In a survey of >50,000 respondents, contact with animals, especially unfamiliar animals, was significantly associated with GI, respiratory, and skin/eye symptoms. Such associations could be attributable to zoonotic infections and allergic reactions associated with animal contact. Etiological models for acute health symptoms should consider contact with companion animals, particularly exposure to unfamiliar animals.

Description:

Background: In order to understand the etiological burden of disease associated with acute health symptoms (e.g. gastrointestinal [GI], respiratory, dermatological), it is important to understand how common exposures influence these symptoms. Exposures to familiar and unfamiliar animals can result in a variety of health symptoms related to infection, irritation, and allergy; however, few studies have examined this association in a large-scale cohort setting. Methods: Cross-sectional data collected from 50,507 beachgoers at 9 beach sites in the United States from 2003-09 were used to examine associations between animal contact and acute health symptoms during a 10-12 day period. Fixed effects multivariable logistic regression estimated adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confident intervals (CI) for associations between animal exposures and outcomes of GI illness, respiratory illness, and skin/eye symptoms.Results: Two-thirds of the study population (63.2%) reported direct contact with animals, of which 7.7% had contact with at least one unfamiliar animal. Participants exposed to unfamiliar animals had significantly higher odds of self-reporting all three acute health symptoms, when compared to non-animal exposed participants (GI: AOR=1.4, CI=1.2-1.7; respiratory: AOR=1.6, CI=1.3-1.9; and skin/eye: AOR=1.8, CI=1.5-2.2), as well as when compared to participants who only had contact with familiar animals. Specific contact with dogs, cats, aquarium fish, or pet birds was also significantly associated with at least one acute health symptom; AORs ranged from 1.1-1.4, when compared to participants not exposed to each animal.Conclusions: In a survey of >50,000 respondents, contact with animals, especially unfamiliar animals, was significantly associated with GI, respiratory, and skin/eye symptoms. Such associations could be attributable to zoonotic infections and allergic reactions associated with animal contact. Etiological models for acute health symptoms should consider contact with companion animals, particularly exposure to unfamiliar animals. Prevention of pet-associated zoonotic diseases includes practical, commonsense measures like hand washing, but are often overlooked by pet owners and non-pet owners alike.

URLs/Downloads:

https://doi.org/10.1111/zph.12233   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 06/01/2016
Record Last Revised: 11/21/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 315158

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH DIVISION

EPIDEMIOLOGY BRANCH