In Your Home

Mold and Companion Animals

Molds are organisms that are considered to be part of the fungus family. There are thousands of varieties. They may be found indoors and outdoors.

Many kinds of molds are potentially harmful. Some molds can produce chemicals known as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are known to be

  • toxic agents that can cause illness in sensitive people
  • common in occupations such as farming

Mold spores are released in the air when the molds are bothered in any way. People who are sensitive to mycotoxins can become ill. There are several methods of exposure:

  • Breathing in the spores from the air
  • Skin contact from handling an item that has mold growing on it
  • Eating without properly washing your hands after handling moldy items

People diagnosed with allergies may be sensitive to molds. Others at risk may be infants and children, the elderly, immunocompromised (e.g. HIV, cancer), people on steroids, and pregnant women. Some symptoms may include:

  • eye irritation (tearing, burning, itching)
  • nose irritation (sneezing, runny nose)
  • respiratory–type symptoms (cough, sore throat)
  • upper or lower respiratory infections

Companion Animals and Your Heath

Pepole, especially those who are immunocompromised, get conflicting medical advice about having pets. A 1994 report, "Caring for Pets of Immunocompromised Persons," suggests that those persons who are immunocompromised might have already developed immunities to their pets' germs, so keeping their pets may not cause significant heath risks. Good hygiene and sanitary practices will help people avoid catching disease from their animals.

Reduce youir risk by washing your hands well before and after contact with the pet and following contact with its feces or body fluids or items that it has touched.

  • Ensure that your pet is healthy, has its vaccines, and and has effective flea and tick control.
  • Prevent your pet having contact with sick animals.
  • Don't put anything the pet—or its hair, scales, feathers, or body fluids—has had contact with in your mouth. (That means no licks of your ice cream.)
  • Avoid
    • your pet's secretions (no sleeping nose–to–nose)
    • dried droppings that can become airborne dust
    • water sources (licks or aquariums)
  • Wear disposable gloves and a mask is necessary when cleaning up areas soiled by pets.
  • Use cleaning solutions that will disinfect whatever you are cleaning.
  • Dispose of cleaning items in a plastic bag that is securely fastened.
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