Kennel Cough in Humans: Fact or Fiction?

One of the most common questions pet owners ask is: “Can humans get kennel cough from their dogs?” Kennel cough, also known as Bordetella or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. But can it cross the species barrier and infect humans? This article seeks to answer that question, relying on scientific consensus and expert insights.

Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a term used to describe a complex of infections—both viral and bacterial—that cause inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. It’s a form of bronchitis and is similar to a chest cold in humans. Dogs commonly contract the disease in places where large amounts of canines congregate, like boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows.

Can Humans Contract Kennel Cough?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main bacteria causing kennel cough—Bordetella bronchiseptica—can infect humans, but it’s extremely rare. Most cases have involved people with compromised immune systems, those with pre-existing respiratory disease, or those who experience prolonged exposure to infected animals.

Healthy adults and children are less likely to become infected. However, as with any disease, it is always best to take preventive measures, such as practicing good hygiene.

Preventing Kennel Cough

The best way to prevent kennel cough (and possible transmission) is to keep your dog’s environment clean and to avoid places where kennel cough may be present. Vaccination can also be effective in preventing certain types of kennel cough.

FAQs: Answering Your Questions About Kennel Cough

Q: What is kennel cough?

A: Kennel cough, or Bordetella, is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs that causes inflammation of the voice box and windpipe.

Q: Can humans get kennel cough from dogs?

A: While it’s technically possible for humans to get kennel cough, it is extremely rare and mostly affects individuals with compromised immune systems, pre-existing respiratory diseases, or prolonged exposure to infected animals.

Q: How can I prevent my dog from getting kennel cough?

A: You can prevent kennel cough by keeping your dog’s environment clean, avoiding high-risk areas, and vaccinating your dog against certain types of the disease.

Conclusion: Unraveling the Myths Around Kennel Cough

While kennel cough is a common and highly contagious disease among dogs, the chances of it crossing the species barrier to infect humans are extremely low. However, it’s essential to understand that prevention is always better than cure. By ensuring our dogs are vaccinated, limiting their exposure to high-risk environments, and maintaining good hygiene practices, we can ensure the health and safety of both our pets and ourselves.

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