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Knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to pet contact by immunocompromised children with cancer and immunocompetent children with diabetes

By J. W. Stull, J. Brophy, J. M. Sargeant, A. S. Peregrine, M. L. Lawson, R. Ramphal, L. Samson, J. Bowes, J. S. Weese

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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.

Date 2014
Publication Title Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 165
Issue 2
Pages 348-355.e2
ISBN/ISSN 0022-3476
DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.04.045
Author Address Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario,
Additional Language English
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals
  3. APEC countries
  4. Attitudes
  5. Canada
  6. Cancer
  7. Children
  8. Commonwealth of Nations
  9. Developed countries
  10. Diabetes
  11. Diseases
  12. Households
  13. Humans
  14. Immunity
  15. Immunocompromised hosts
  16. Knowledge
  17. Mammals
  18. Men
  19. OECD countries
  20. Parasites
  21. pathogens
  22. Pets and companion animals
  23. Primates
  24. Psychiatry and psychology
  25. Risk Assessment
  26. Social psychology and social anthropology
  27. United States of America
  28. vertebrates
  29. Zoonoses