Can animal parasites give infections if I have HIV?

Q. I have read that some some animals can have parasites that might give me an infection because I have HIV.  What animals are included in this group and what kind of things should I look out for.  We have both a cat and a dog.  Can the animals be tested for any relevant parasites?

A. Animals may carry a host of infections and everyone needs to take reasonable precautions.  There is no need to carry out special testing and animals should be assessed generally to check they are reasonably healthy and their routine vaccinations are up to date.  Make sure they have treatment for fleas and be careful handling animals with loose bowels.

A. HIV positive people should wear gloves when handling litter trays for cats.  Animal faeces are particularly risky and hand washing rituals are important.  The pet should eat a healthy diet of cooked food and avoid the temptation to kiss the animal!  Cats and dogs may transmit Toxoplasmosis, Toxacara, cat scratch disease, hookworms, salmonella and a wide range of other infections.  Reptiles and exotic pets need to be avoided. – Dr. Laurence Gerlis