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Cats pass disease to wildlife, even in remote areas
Date:5/12/2011

picked up the infection close to where they were trapped, she said. This makes these animals good sentinels of disease in a natural area.

"The small animals are screening the environment for us," she said. "So when we sample one of those animals, we are really sampling their lifestyle."

The absence of bobcats in the park combined with the occurrence of domestic cats and T. gondii infection in wildlife that inhabit small territories strongly suggest that feral, free-ranging or abandoned house cats are the source of the infection, Mateus-Pinilla said. Cats are vital for the survival of the parasite, and so they are either directly or indirectly spreading T. gondii to the wildlife in the park. "There's no other option," she said.

The researchers also found that "small-home-range" animals were more likely to test positive for T. gondii if they lived near human structures in the park or in areas where there were a lot of cats, said lead author Shannon Fredebaugh, a graduate student who completed her master's degree with the study. But the researchers also found infected small-home-range animals in remote areas where fewer cats were seen.

"If one infected cat defecates there, any area can become infected," Fredebaugh said. "It just takes one cat to bring disease to an area."


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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