Bobcats more likely to get diseases from urban areas, scientists say

Oct 05, 2012
Bobcat on the Uncompahgre Plateau on Colorado's Western Slope.

(—Bobcats are more likely to pick up parasites such as Giardia when they're closer to urban areas with a heavier human impact on the environment, according to a new study by Colorado State University wildlife and veterinary scientists.

The paper appears in the September 2012 issue of the . The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Ecology of Infectious Disease Program.

Researchers collected in Ventura County, Calif., and along Colorado's Front Range and Western Slope, and tested them for Toxoplasma gondii, Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp.– all parasites that cause health issues in people and wildlife, with the latter two causing diarrhea and other .

Findings revealed that near urban areas of Boulder, Colo., and Los Angeles were more likely to have those parasites than bobcats living in more rural areas in Colorado.

Faculty and students collaborating on the project represented Warner College of Natural Resources and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State.

"We found support for our hypothesis that bobcats become exposed to and shed zoonotic parasites in fecal material around human-occupied landscapes," said Kevin Crooks, professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and . Among his co-authors were Dr. Sue VandeWoude, professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, and Dr. Mike Lappin from the Department of Clinical Sciences.

"Bobcats seem to have acquired Giardia from humans rather than the other way around – they were probably exposed to the water supply around cities," VandeWoude said. "Giardia can infect people and may cause ."

The study also found a high incidence of bobcat exposure to the , but did not find evidence animals were shedding the disease. This parasite can infect humans and causes mild to minimal disease in healthy people, but can cause complications for infants and people with a compromised immune system. Cats only spread toxoplasma in their feces for a few weeks following infection with the parasite. This study suggests the lifecycle of the parasite in bobcats is similar to domestic cats.

There was no evidence that the bobcats shedding these parasites were actually sick, researchers said.

The paper is a follow-up by the same scientists who released a study in February showing that domestic cats, bobcats and pumas that live in the same area share diseases – and may bring them into family homes. The study provided evidence that domestic cats and wild cats that share the same outdoor areas in urban environments can also share diseases such as bartonellosis and toxoplasmosis, both of which can be spread from cats to people.

The earlier study looked at of California and Colorado and shows these diseases can spread through contact with shared habitat and how the diseases can be clustered due to urban development and major freeways that restrict animal movement.

Both studies involved collaboration with field biologists, federal and state agencies, animal shelters and other institutions.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cats pass disease to wildlife, even in remote areas

May 12, 2011

Researchers tracking the spread of Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite that reproduces only in cats but sickens and kills many other animals – have found infected wildlife throughout a 1,500-acre (600-hectare) ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

20 hours ago

( —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2012
More expensive yet useless research by "scientists" having a vested financial interest in the (study) findings.

The only reason I read past the second line: "The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Ecology of Infectious Disease Program." was to see if AGW was mentioned. To their credit, it was not.

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

( —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

( —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

( —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

( —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...