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Some people are more likely to get diseases from animals or to develop more severe disease because of weaker immune systems. However, immunocompromised persons and parents of young children generally do not need to give up common household pets. Certain precautions are recommended to decrease the risk of disease transmission.

People at higher risk due to immune compromise include:

  • organ transplant recipients
  • people on cancer treatment or other therapy that suppresses the immune system
  • people with AIDS
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • children under 5 years of age
Animals to avoid contact with:
  • reptiles and amphibians such as lizards, snakes, frogs & turtles
  • baby chicks & ducklings
  • exotic pets like hedgehogs
  • sick animals, especially those with diarrhea

Pregnant women should also avoid hamsters and mice due to the risk of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection that can harm the unborn baby. Pregnant women should also take precautions to avoid toxoplasmosis, which can be transmitted in cat feces.

Resources

Information for families with young children:

Information for pregnant women: