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Low awareness of zoonoses among metropolitan pet owners

S. G. Steele, S. M. Mor

MORE than 63 per cent of Australian households own a pet and recent surveys have shown that the growing importance of pets in Australian society has brought them out of the backyard and into increasingly close contact with their owners. Given the potential for the spread of zoonotic diseases from pets and the current lack of surveillance for zoonoses of pet origin in Australia and elsewhere, this pilot study set out to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and practices of clients attending an urban, small animal practice in Sydney.

Eighty-one pet owners who were waiting for appointments or for short procedures to be completed were invited to complete a questionnaire between May and June 2013. The majority of respondents owned dogs (80.2 per cent) or cats (39.5 per cent).

The survey revealed that most (64.5 per cent) clients were not concerned about contracting a disease from their pet, with one in four stating they had not considered the possibility. Client awareness of specific zoonoses, knowledge of animal sources and exposure pathways was generally low, although awareness tended to be better for diseases for which there are routine …

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