Objective: To compare knowledge, attitudes, and risks related to pet contact in households with and without immunocompromised children. Study design: A questionnaire was distributed to parents of children diagnosed with cancer (immunocompromised; n=80) or diabetes (immunocompetent; n=251) receiving care at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Information was collected on knowledge of pets as sources of disease, concerns regarding pet-derived pathogens, and pet ownership practices. Data were analyzed with multivariable logistic regression. Results: The questionnaire was completed by 65% (214 of 331) of the individuals to whom it was given. Pet ownership was common; 45% of respondents had a household pet when their child was diagnosed, and many (households with a child with diabetes, 49%; households with a child with cancer, 20%) acquired a new pet after diagnosis. Most households that obtained a new pet had acquired a pet considered high risk for infectious disease based on species/age (diabetes, 73%; cancer, 77%). Parents of children with cancer were more likely than parents of children with diabetes to recall being asked by a physician/staff member if they owned a pet (OR, 5.9) or to recall receiving zoonotic disease information (OR, 5.3), yet these interactions were reported uncommonly (diabetes, ≤13%; cancer, ≤48%). Greater knowledge of pet-associated pathogens was associated with recalled receipt of previous education on this topic (OR, 3.9). Pet exposure outside the home was reported frequently for children in non-pet-owning households (diabetes, 48%; cancer, 25%). Conclusion: Improved zoonotic disease education is needed for pet-owning and non-pet-owning households with immunocompromised children, with ongoing provision of information while the children are at increased risk of disease. Additional efforts from pediatric and veterinary healthcare professionals are required.
|Publication Title||Journal of Pediatrics|
|Author Address||Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.Jason.Stull@cvm.osu.edu|