Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed between animals and humans. While the term sounds strange, you’re likely familiar with many zoonotic diseases: rabies, Lyme disease, and toxoplasmosis are a few. But new research shows that dogs may be able to be infected with human norovirus, and this raises questions as to whether or not we could be at risk from catching it from our canine companions.

Norovirus, the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States, is extremely contagious, causes vomiting and diarrhea, and is nothing to laugh at. While it’s not yet known if dogs show clinical signs of norovirus, or if they could even shed enough of the virus to infect humans, the research shows that some dogs can mount an immune response to human norovirus. This means that these dogs have probably been infected with it in the past. Concerning, but there are still a few questions to be answered before you really need to worry about your dog transmitting the virus.

Bottom line? By working with dogs, researchers are trying to determine if man’s best friend can put you at risk for contracting this nasty virus. There’s still more work to be done to determine whether or not your dog really puts you at risk for contracting the virus, but until there are more answers, it’s probably a good idea to take extra precautions when any of your family members, two- or four-legged, are exhibiting signs of a stomach virus.

Read more about this research here.

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