Domestic cats helping spread dangerous parasite to wildlife, UBC study finds

Must you maintain your pet cat indoors? New analysis from the College of British Columbia is including ammunition to the argument the reply is “sure.”

The examine, led by veterinarian and UBC adjunct forestry professor Amy Wilson, focuses on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is frequent in cats and probably dangerous to wildlife.

The researchers checked out greater than 45,000 instances of toxoplasmosis in wild animals and located a heightened presence of the parasite amongst wildlife dwelling close to dense city areas.

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“Toxoplasma has an attention-grabbing life cycle in that cats and home cats and wild cats are on the centre of its life cycle,” Wilson stated.

“While you see a sample that you’ve got elevated an infection charges and with excessive human densities, then with excessive human densities, you’re going to see larger numbers of home cats. In order that’s what we concluded was one of many elements resulting in the an infection charges as a result of they’re loading the atmosphere with elevated numbers of eggs.”

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A single contaminated cat can shed as many as 500 million Toxoplasma oocysts (eggs) in a two-week interval by feces. These eggs can go dormant and wait years earlier than infecting an animal, she stated.

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Animals contaminated with toxoplasmosis carry the parasite for all times, probably resulting in nervous system issues, cancers, different debilitating power sicknesses and demise in instances the place they have already got a weakened immune system.

The parasite may also be handed up the meals chain to predators that eat contaminated wildlife, and is a selected risk to aquatic species, in line with Wilson.

People may also change into contaminated by coming into contact with contaminated cat feces, with specific hazard to people who find themselves pregnant.

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Many organizations, together with the BC SPCA, advocate conserving cats indoors each for their very own safety and to scale back predation on birds and different wildlife.

Conserving cats indoors, on harnesses or in so-called “catios” or enclosed out of doors areas may also assist stop the unfold of toxoplasmosis, with extra advantages for the cats themselves.

“I simply actually need to make it possible for folks perceive that they don’t should eliminate their cats,” Wilson stated.

“The message to cat homeowners is absolutely to begin transitioning your cat to a supervised out of doors entry — we all know that free-roaming cats undergo elevated trauma, we all know they undergo elevated illness,” she stated.

Wilson stated the examine, not too long ago revealed in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, additionally highlighted the significance of defending wholesome forests and ecosystems, which might help filter out Toxoplasma and forestall the an infection of untamed animals.

© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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