Animal-assisted therapy and zoonoses caused by them. Literature review


Nida Skamarakaitė-Stulpinė1, Greta Mitkutė1 

1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania


Hundreds of years, pets have been not only humans’ best friends but also doctors. Animals started to be used in therapy because they tend to be free of prejudice when interacting with people. The companion animal lives with the patient and constantly provides support to the. In clinical practice, animal therapy is widely used in oncology. Animal visits bring joy to patients, strengthen emotional well – being and reduce stress. Animal therapy is also successfully used in rehabilitation: it facilitates the acquisition and development of skills required by a child in daily activities, encourages interaction with others, and reduces anxiety. Animal therapy also has a positive effect on human mental health. For example, the use of canine – assisted therapy in prisons – it was found that the majority of prisoners developed a high level of self – esteem and began to feel empathy for each other. However, human – raised animals can cause a variety of zoonoses – infectious diseases transmitted by animals. Some of the most common zoonoses in the world are echinococcosis, toxoplasmosis, lambliasis, and cat – scratch disease. People are usually infected with these zoonoses after a contact with dogs or cats. Echinococcosis affects liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys. Toxoplasmosis is especially dangerous for people who have weakened immunity and during pregnancy. Lambliasis causes severe diarrhea. Cat – scratch disease for patients causes a flu – like illness with painful regional limphadenopathy. In this publication, we will review the benefits and harms of animals to humans and their health, as well as possible prevention measures.


Keywords: animal – assisted therapy, canine – assisted therapy, oncology, rehabilitation, children, prisoners, zoonosis, echinococcosis, toxoplasmosis, lambliasis, cat – scratch disease, prevention.