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kuchikomi

Skinship with a pet may make you ill

30 Comments

"Shock! If you keep a pet, you will get stomach cancer." That's the headline in Shukan Gendai (Sept 19). A sub-head reads, "That kiss can kill you."

"I'd never realized such a danger existed," a female pet owner is quoted as saying. "At home I'd never let my dog lick my face, and always used separate sponges to clean the dog's dish and the dishes used by people.

"But dogs lick people's hands or feet, and chew on objects in the house. I'd better discuss this with my husband and warn him to be careful."

The woman had been reading an essay by columnist Miho Yamada about the potential dangers of contact with pets. Yamada herself keeps a miniature Pinscher.

Dogs, cats and other mammals, including primates and pigs, are known to harbor Helicobacter heilmannii, a bacteria closely related to H. Pylori generally found in primates, cats, pigs, and carnivorous mammals. While transmissions from animals to people are not extremely common, about 0.5% to 6% of human gastric infections have been attributed to H. heilmannii.

The bacteria is capable of inducing mild chronic gastritis but is also associated with peptic ulceration, and in worst cases may cause cancer.

A special test at the hospital using the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, which examines strands of DNA, is the only way to verify such an infection. The general method of treatment is antibiotics.

Risks come from indirect contact with a pet's saliva, such as by using the same eating utensils as one's pet, or allowing the pet to lick one's food. Once in a human host, the bacteria can be spread through kissing or other close contact.

Likewise, cats often regurgitate furballs, which their owners might pick up using a tissue or barehanded. When gloves are used to handle animal droppings they need to be washed with soap or an antiseptic solution.

Recently a group headed by professor Masahiko Nakamura of Kitasato University released findings that suggested H. heilmannii may be the cause of a stomach cancer called mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.

"There are data to indicate people who carry H. heilmannii may be seven times more susceptible to MALT lymphoma than those infected by H. Pylori," said Hokkaido University co-researcher Katsuhiro Mabe. "The tumors they develop are different, but if properly treated to deal with the bacterial infection the prognosis is favorable."

The findings in Japan confirm earlier studies conducted in Germany 20 years ago.

Like other Heliobacter bacteria, the germs can also be transmitted by flies. For people who keep multiple pets, and those living with pets in cramped urban residences such as one-room "mansions," the likelihood of infection is increased.

Nor can children be overlooked.

"Children have yet to fully develop full immunity, and are more susceptible to stomach infections," says Takeo Osugi, professor of Zoology at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido. In most cases, it is believed that H. pylori infections occur during infancy or childhood. While the route of infection is still unclear, adults have to exercise caution to prevent pets from licking kids' faces or allowing pet saliva to come in contact with their hands.

Should a natural disaster strike, the aforementioned Ms. Yamada warns against taking your pet with you if you are forced to evacuate to temporary shelter, such as a school gymnasium.

"Like what occurred at the time of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, you can't take your pet along with you," she warns. "There are people who don't like being around animals. Some are allergic to them.

"If the pet's infected, it can spread to others, creating a huge problem. So you've got to take precautions," she adds.

As much as you may adore your pet, the article concludes, you're well advised to maintain a safe distance.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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"Skinship." There's a word I haven't seen used since about 1990. Otherwise, what a crap article. Right up there with vaccines causing autism.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Its the tip of the iceberg. Bigger fish to fry and all that.

Its not like the kids are getting cancer while still kids. If they get the cancer, its when they are so old they probably would have gotten another cancer from something else anyway.

Just another fear monger piece. Reminds me of the HPV scare, except there is a clear desire to sell a vaccine with the HPV scare.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh for the love of all that is sensible! This is why there are so many allergies and medical 'intolerances'. Keeping people away from nature and animals and dirt and other people. I hope nobody takes this seriously.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It's in Shukan Gendai, folks. Scare-mongering fluff.

The benefits of living with animals far outweigh any unproved, unlikely, made-up 'dangers'.

Assuming that you're a responsible pet-owner, owning a dog means that you get plenty of exercise every day that you probably wouldn't without the daily need to take Fido out.

While you're out and about with Fido, you're more likely to come into contact with other dog-owners with whom you can engage in social interaction.

Children who grow up with pets in the house are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma.

Dog- and cat-owners have lower blood pressure than their petless counterparts.

Alzheimer's sufferers tend to be calmer, with fewer anxiety outbursts, when there is a pet in the home.

Interacting with your dog raises serotonin and dopamine levels much like heroin and cocaine do, but without the obvious disadvantages of using dangerous drugs.

Male pet-owners have lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol than non-owners, and if they do have a heart attack, they survive longer than non-owners.

Balanced against Shukan Gendai's may bes and might bes, there seems to be no contest.

Now excuse me while I go feed the cat (using her own, not-for-human-use bowl, of course).

6 ( +9 / -3 )

reading this gives me two questions..

how come this is not a reasearch from "american experts" like i usually use to read about how farting can shorten lifespan by years..... also what University did this Research?

seriously People who take this serious.. I'm sorry for them...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is not really a surprising finding since domestication of animals has been a source of disease for centuries.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Cats also spread toxoplasmosis.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You know, statistically I think I'm more likely to catch a disease from a fellow human than an animal.

Believe it or not, illnesses have co-evolved to infect a particular organism. Some cross over, of course...but diseases specifically built to infect humans are mostly spread via humans.

....so I guess I should stop kissing my wife and playing with my children :(

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Cats also spread toxoplasmosis.

Which can cause schizophrenia, as in the "crazy cat lady syndrome." I know someone I suspect has it, and he's looney-tunes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

We have two dogs, and two cats, and at one time had three dogs and three cats, all rescued strays and I can safely say that my life and my family's life has been richer, albeit not financially but all the same richer in quality. We have only one son and the pets are his siblings and he has learned from them the value of life, responsibility and compassion. Using common sense hygiene practice and educating oneself about the animals can prevent unwanted diseases. If ever there's a disaster, my family is going to stick together, no one left behind.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Wow. Someone actually used the word, "Skinship." Time for whoever wrote this to turn in their "journalist" card...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This article will no doubt result in more stray animals caused by pet dumping.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can bet that the real article suggesting that your pets can kill you is sponsored by anti-bacterial wipes and masks companies that will feature their products with no "Minus-ion anti-pollen anti-pet bacteria Power"!

If you're a pet owner and are not taking care, you deserve the odd bout of gastronitis. Not too many pet owners are going to pick up the poop and then munch on a bagel with the same hand without cleaning it off, or drink from the pets water dish.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To Peace Out. A lot of kids have and are getting cancer at very young ages. Google, maybe, St. Judes Children's Hospital to see.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yuck people, don't lick and kiss your pets!

there's no way you'll ever catch me doing that to a non-human mammal.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow. Someone actually used the word, "Skinship." Time for whoever wrote this to turn in their "journalist" card...

Cheesy as the word may sound, it actually concerns a valid point. There are helpful bacteria that should be on people's skin and is spread by skin contact. Japanese aversion to skin contact is, I believe, one of many factors in the incidence of atopy in this country. One might think the lack of hugging between family members would be rectified by parents bathing with their children, but the Japanese bath is typically much, much too hot thus killing the bacteria.

And I believe that pets are having a negative affect because they don't have the bacteria they need to protect from the bacteria they get off pets.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese aversion to skin contact is, I believe, one of many factors in the incidence of atopy in this country.

According to at least one doctor I've spoken with, the atopi thing has far more to do with environmental pollution than anything else.

Anyway, the Japanese are the longest lived and healthiest people in the world, so they must be doing something right!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Idiotic article that will result in suffering and death of previously-loved pets. On a lighter note, I guess I shouldn't continue to use my cat's chopsticks, because disease results from "using the same eating utensils as one’s pet".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to at least one doctor I've spoken with, the atopi thing has far more to do with environmental pollution than anything else.

Did it ever occur to you that certain skin bacteria could be helping people to alleviate the effects of that pollution?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I think there is more of a danger of being 'too clean'. Kids exposed to germs early on have a more robust immune system when they are older.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Dogs, cats and other mammals, including primates and pigs, are known to harbor Helicobacter heilmannii, a bacteria closely related to H. Pylori generally found in primates, cats, pigs, and carnivorous mammals. While transmissions from animals to people are not extremely common, about 0.5% to 6% of human gastric infections have been attributed to H. heilmannii. The bacteria is capable of inducing mild chronic gastritis but is also associated with peptic ulceration, and in worst cases may cause cancer.

Over 50% of the World population "harbor" Helicobacter Pylori.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is just another "this may cause" nonsense of the modern world in an ocean of researches made with the single purpose of to justify the scientists jobs. Once the odds are the same of to get stamped by a herd of mad elephants or of being fried by alien lasers, we can carry on caressing our pets without worries.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Isn't "skinship" Japanese English?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Perhaps more research needs to be done, before telling people how to behave?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@PeaceOut

Just another fear monger piece. Reminds me of the HPV scare, except there is a clear desire to sell a vaccine with the HPV scare.

There is no HPV scare.

Instead there is a known and genuine health risk - the figures on this are easy to find, and they would be educational for anyone who, without medical knowledge, likes to dismiss medical findings - from certain HPV types. Some can cause genital warts, others can lead to cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancers, and to other cancers such as penile cancer and anal cancer, though these are rather rare.

The greatest concern is with cervical cancer, not only for the number of cases that do occur annually, but for the extremely high percentage in which HPV infection is implicated. (How high? The NHS website says "Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus". So pretty high.) Oropharyngeal cancers are also a concern: the percentage, while lower than for cervical, is also very high.

The findings on HPV should be considered a success rather than fearmongering or vaccine promotion. Many cancers are much harder to pin down when it comes to causes. To find an undeniable link with a specific infection, which can then be reduced through modification of behaviour and through vaccination, is kind of a breakthrough in potential cancer prevention. In fact, in the case of cervical cancer, it's a huge breakthrough.

It really is a pity that there are people who - often out ideological hostility to vaccinations in general - actually seek to replace this kind of hard-won knowledge with their own vastly inferior understanding of the subject.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Right... and lack of skinship with pets (or other humans who may also carry We Don't Know What, may cause coldness of heart.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

****I've lived with dogs & cats for 41 years. I must be an ALIEN!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes! I hope plenty of people (in Japan) read this and take it to heart. If so maybe the price of English Bulldogs will go down. 50万 is way too much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rather than 'skinship', surely that should be 'furship'.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Many studies have shown that children who grow up in an environment with animals have a much stronger immune system that those who don't.

One piece of research showed that house dust in a residence with dogs prevented a certain type of childhood asthma. Other research has linked a reduction in allergies with keeping pets.

If you run around afraid of all bacteria you will probably die from a stress-related heart attack.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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