LIFESTYLE

Can Humans Get Norovirus From Their Pets? New Study Suggests Dogs Can Get The Stomach Bug

13/04/2015 11:31 BST | Updated 13/04/2015 11:59 BST

If your dog has been suffering from sickness or diarrhoea, it could have the norovirus.

That's according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology that suggests our canine companions can also be infected by the illness.

Study author Dr Sarah Caddy, a veterinarian and PhD student at the University of Cambridge, said the research raises the possibility of dog-to-human transmission.

dog owner

Caddy and a team of researchers analysed the health of 325 dogs to complete their study. Some dogs in the study exhibited antibodies to norovirus.

"This strongly suggests that these dogs have been infected with the virus," Caddy commented in the study.

"We also confirmed that that human norovirus can bind to the cells of the canine gut, which is the first step required for infection of cells."

Despite the suggestion of previous infection among the dogs, the researchers pointed out that this may not have been caused by human transition.

It is still unclear whether the dogs contracted the virus from their owners, or from other forms of contamination, such as food.

"As a small animal veterinarian, I am often asked by dog owners if they might be able to pass infections onto their dogs, or if their dogs are contagious to them," Caddy said.

"There are plenty of anecdotal cases of dogs and humans in the same household, having simultaneous gastroenteritis, but very little rigorous scientific research is conducted in this area."

"Until more definitive data is available, sensible hygiene precautions should be taken around pets, especially when gastroenteritis in either humans or dogs is present in a household."

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It's estimated that between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK catch the norovirus each year.

The NHS advise that anyone who thinks they have the norovirus should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and take paracetamol for any fever, aches and pains.

According to Blue Cross, it is not uncommon for dogs to experience sickness or diarrhoea - they usually occur as a reult of infections, scavenging or feeding on leftovers.

Although vomiting usually means a tummy upset, it can also be a sign of other illnesses.

Blue Cross say if your dog has been vomiting frequently, seems weak and lethargic or is a puppy, always contact your vet.

H/T: Eurekalert

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