Researchers to Study How Disrupted Habitats Affect Feline Disease

A $2.3 million grant allows Colorado State to study how fractured habitats influence disease transmission between big cats and domestic cats.

Posted: October 20 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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Researchers at Colorado State University will study bobcats, pumas and domestic cats in three different areas of the country in an effort to study how disrupted habitats — such as encroachment and urbanization — affect disease transmission between the species.

A $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the study. Research will include habitats in California, Florida and Colorado, as bobcats and pumas share habitats in these regions. Domestic cats are also common in these areas, and possibilities exist that these animals will come into contact with one another. Researchers will study diseases in wild cats and analyze how common those same disease-causing agents are in domestic cats.

“We suspect that the spectrum of pathogens and the rate of infection changes as habitat fragmentation forces those species to live in closer proximity,” said Sue VandeWoude, an associate professor in the department of microbiology, immunology and pathology and principle investigator of the study.

VandeWoude’s lab specializes in the study of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and reports that bobcats, pumas and domestic cats each carry specific strains of FIV. The researchers will study the similarity of the strains to gain insight into population connections. Officials stated that preliminary research shows that wild cats in California and Florida share FIV strains in restricted habitats, demonstrating cross-species transmission.

Associate professor in the department of fish, wildlife and conservation biology Kevin Crooks will join VandeWoude in conducting the study as part of a National Science Foundation Ecology of Infectious Diseases research program.

The study aims to advance research in determining how urbanization influences the dynamics of disease transmission between wildlife and companion animals, according to university officials.

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Researchers to Study How Disrupted Habitats Affect Feline Disease

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Angela    Hamburg, NY

10/21/2007 7:41:00 AM

This is just another examle of how humans destorying the environment is harming all animals.

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