Group of cats and human handIt’s a good thing pets can bring such joy—and that past studies have found that owning one may reduce stress and boost the immune system. Because new research is shedding light into the germs that pets bring into our home: specifically, cats and chickens (so all pet owners should support their immune systems!).

Backyard chicken coops are a growing trend, and for good reason. They provide cheap eggs at a quality most people can’t get at the grocery store. But hold off on getting too cozy: bird owners apparently like to give kisses, which is causing a wave of Salmonella infections.

It’s easy to keep a small coop clean, and worth the effort. Where people are going wrong is putting too much stock in it—kissing chickens (and other funny poses for social media), letting them sleep in their beds, and just generally getting too intimate. With bird flu sweeping through the US, Salmonella may not be the worst thing you can get.

Keep chickens in their coops (weather permitting) and love them (and other pet birds) from a distance.

And what about cats? While you may know about toxoplasmosis, the virus that has ill effects for people with weakened immune systems and may cause symptoms of depression, there are other germs, too.

Bites or scratches can transmit the bacteria Bartonella henselae, AKA cat-scratch fever.

More than 1 in 3 cats test positive for the disease, although the risk of getting it is low (especially if your cat is docile). The thing about cat-scratch fever is that it has the same problem that Lyme Disease and other sometimes mild infections have—it can cause inflammation, and that may grow to impact the heart and brain (among other things).

Symptoms of cat-scratch fever are headache, and in severe cases, encephalitis and endocarditis. But it’s the mild inflammation that might appear in minor (undiagnosed) cases can cause long-term problems.

If you get scratched or bitten by a cat, watch for swelling, redness, and more pain than expected, which are signs of infection, as well as headaches.

While everyone should try and prevent scratches, the very young and old are at most risk (partially because of their naturally weaker immune systems) and should avoid most cats.

Pet owners of all types—bird, mammal, fish or reptile—can support their immune system with colloidal silver (and other good habits).

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