04/20/2015 16:41 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 01:12 EDT

Practical advice on stopping spread of diseases from pets to people

TORONTO - Love and loyalty aren't the only things pets can give to the humans who care for them. Companion animals can also be a source of diseases for people, especially children and adults who have compromised immune systems.Here's some advice on how to minimize the infection risks they pose:— Wash hands after handling animals or their environment— Keep cats' nails trimmed and try to limit scratches when playing with them— Keep cats indoors and change their litter boxes daily. Wear gloves while changing a litter box and wash your hands afterwards. Keep litter boxes away from the kitchen— Don't let pets drink non-potable water such as puddles or water from a toilet bowl— Cover sandboxes when they aren't in use— When you are cleaning an aquarium, don't dump the old water down sinks used in the preparation of food— Don't let pets lick wounds or cuts. Discourage them from licking the faces of very young children or immunocompromised people— Avoid contact with reptiles, amphibians, rodents and baby poultry; they can carry salmonella. These animals are not appropriate pets if there is a high-risk patient in the household— Consider mature animals from reputable vendors when you are looking for a new pet. Young animals pose a greater infection risk