Dr Amy Wilson, veterinarian and ecologist wants to limit free-roaming cats to protect wildlife

Professor Amy Wilson's research concluded that domestic cats are likely to blame for the spread of toxoplasma gondii to wildlife in urban areas where there are lots of cats. The researchers examined 45,079 cases of toxoplasmosis in wild animals. They found a correlation between the density of humans in urban areas and the likelihood of infection of the toxoplasmosis in wildlife. That is: the more dense the human population the more likely wild animals will be infected by zoonotic diseases such as toxoplasma gondii.

Professor Dr Amy Wilson veterinarian and ecologist
Professor Dr Amy Wilson veterinarian and ecologist. Photo: her bio page online.

Dr Wilson blames free-roaming domestic cats and feral cats for the 'most likely cause of the infections'.

She says that her research is "significant because by simply limiting free-roaming of cats, we can reduce the impact of Toxoplasma on wildlife.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: It Is Time to Stop Denigrating the Domestic Cat with Spurious Links between Toxoplasmosis and Human Mental Health

She states that one cat can excrete 500 oocysts in 14 days. But it should be noted this happens once in a cat's lifetime (my comment). 

"These infective oocysts are only passed for a very short time after initial exposure" (Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook).

But these tough eggs can live for 5 years in soil where they can infect animals and humans. Humans and animals have to ingest the oocysts.

ASSOCIATED: Truth about Toxoplasmosis and Cats

A lot has been written about toxoplasmosis. A lot of it derogatory for the cat. It is nearly always asymptomatic in cats and humans. When the immune system is compromised it can cause ill-health.

Professor Wilson also says that maintaining healthy habitats and ecosystems helps to protect wildlife. She said:

"We know that when wetlands are destroyed or streams are restricted, we are more likely to experience runoff that carries more pathogens into the waters where wild animals drink or live. And when their habitats are healthy, wildlife thrives and tends to be more disease-resistant."

The study: "Human density is associated with the increased prevalence of a generalist zoonotic parasite in mammalian wildlife” by Amy G. Wilson, Scott Wilson, Niloofar Alavi and David R. Lapen, 20 October 2021, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Link: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1724

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