Can Humans Get Kennel Cough?

It’s very rare for humans to contract kennel cough from animals. Most of the available literature does not even address this possibility, meaning that evidence of canine to human transmission is slim at best. Kennel cough can be caused by different microorganisms. These include canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper virus, Mycoplasma, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. Of these, only the last one can potentially be contracted by humans.

Bordetella bronchiseptica in humans

Humans can contract the Bordetella from other sources than dogs, and so it makes sense that humans can contract this bacterium from infected canines. However, to date, there is only circumstantial evidence that humans have ever contracted the bacterial infection from dogs. It is not clear whether these cases truly involved canine to human transmission, or whether the humans were exposed to the bacterium from some other source.

People with the highest risk of infection

It is likely that if a person were to contract the infection from a dog, they already had a compromised immune system.  For example, individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or cancer, and those who have undergone an organ transplant operation— would fall into this category. This makes them much more susceptible to contracting infections that would not cause most other people to fall ill.

In households with high-risk individuals, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of transmission. A dog known to have kennel cough may need to be isolated from the at-risk patient. In addition, all dogs in the household should be proactively vaccinated against kennel cough. This doesn’t eliminate the risk, but it can significantly reduce it.

Although canine-human transmission of kennel cough is unlikely, precautions are still important. TriStar Vet offers easily sterilized stainless steel veterinary office equipment.