Although horses can pass diseases to people, you are not likely to get sick from touching or owning them. However, when you do common chores with horses, such as cleaning stalls, grooming them, and picking out their feet, you are probably touching manure without knowing it. To protect yourself from getting sick, you should thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap after contact with horses or their manure.
Horses can carry different germs that make people sick. Some of these germs are common and some are rare. For example, horses often carry the bacterium Salmonella. This germ causes salmonellosis (sal-MON-el-oh-sis) in people. Horses also can carry Cryptosporidium (krip-toe-spo-RID-dee-um). This germ causes the disease cryptosporidiosis (krip-TOE-spo-rid-ee-O-sis) in people. Rarely, horses can carry rabies, which is a viral disease that can lead to death.
Some people are more likely than others to get diseases from horses. A person's age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely to get diseases from horses include infants, children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people being treated for cancer. Special advice is available for people who are at greater risk than others of getting diseases from animals. Many organizations support the health benefits of pets. These groups provide information on how animals can help people be healthy.
Learn more about horse-related diseases below.
Campylobacter Infection (campylobacteriosis): A bacterial disease associated with various animals, including horses.
Cryptosporidium Infection (cryptosporidiosis): A parasitic disease associated with various animals, including horses.
Leptospira Infection (Leptospirosis): A bacterial disease associated with dogs, livestock, rodents,and wildlife.
Rabies: A viral disease only rarely associated with horses.
Ringworm: A fungal disease associated various animals, including with horses.
Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis): A bacterial disease associated with various animals, including horses and other farm animals.
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