SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - If your pet sleeps in bed with you, you could be exposing yourself to deadly diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The report came out earlier this year, but the Wired Science Blog is listing it as one of the most-read medical research articles of 2011.
"Pets in particular, if they're outside, can pick up germs and can bring them into the home, and if they're sleeping in the bed with you, that's where you can pick some of those germs up as well," Dr. Wilma Wooten of the San Diego County Department of Public Health said.
Wooten warns sleeping with your dog or cat can come with risks. There have been documented cases of meningitis, MRSA, a disease called cat scratch and the plague.
"Plague is transmitted through ticks. Those situations can occur, but they are rare, but we want our pet owners to be aware of the situation. Pets also carry parasites and worms," Wooten said.
Wooten says serious infections can be deadly.
"We do have documentation that animals can transmit MRSA to humans, and humans to animal," she said.
And she says don't let your dog or cat lick you, especially if you have a wound. A report published by the CDC cites a woman in Australia who developed multi-organ failure after her puppy licked a minor burn on her foot. Those types of complications are uncommon, but Wooten says just be cautious.
"For a healthy person, sleeping with your pet, most likely you're not going to have any concerns. For an auto immune compromised individual, or for young children, that's where the concern lies," Wooten said.
Wooten says there are also clinical reports and evidence that having a pet has positive health benefits for cardiac patients and the elderly. She says with regular veterinarian check-ups and good care, you and your pet can live together without getting sick.