Healthy animals, healthy people: Zoonosis risk from animal contact in pet shops, a systematic review of the literature

Kate D. Halsby, Amanda L. Walsh, Colin Campbell, Kirsty Hewitt, Dilys Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Around 67 million pets are owned by households in the United Kingdom, and an increasing number of these are exotic animals. Approximately a third of pets are purchased through retail outlets or direct from breeders. A wide range of infections can be associated with companion animals. Objectives: This study uses a systematic literature review to describe the transmission of zoonotic disease in humans associated with a pet shop or other location selling pets (incidents of rabies tracebacks and zoonoses from pet food were excluded). Data sources: PubMed and EMBASE. Results: Fifty seven separate case reports or incidents were described in the 82 papers that were identified by the systematic review. Summary information on each incident is included in this manuscript. The infections include bacterial, viral and fungal diseases and range in severity from mild to life threatening. Infections associated with birds and rodents were the most commonly reported. Over half of the reports describe incidents in the Americas, and three of these were outbreaks involving more than 50 cases. Many of the incidents identified relate to infections in pet shop employees. Limitations: This review may have been subject to publication bias, where unusual and unexpected zoonotic infections may be over-represented in peer-reviewed publications. It was also restricted to English-language articles so that pathogens that are more common in non-Western countries, or in more exotic animals not common in Europe and the Americas, may have been under-represented. Conclusions/implications: A wide spectrum of zoonotic infections are acquired from pet shops. Salmonellosis and psittacosis were the most commonly documented diseases, however more unusual infections such as tularemia also appeared in the review. Given their potential to spread zoonotic infection, it is important that pet shops act to minimise the risk as far as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere89309
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2014


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