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J Wildl Dis. 2004 Jan;40(1):11-22.

Exposure to feline and canine pathogens in bobcats and gray foxes in urban and rural zones of a national park in California.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, California 95616, USA.


Exposure of bobcats (Lynx rufus) and gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) to a range of common canine and feline pathogens was assessed in urban and rural zones of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a National Park in the San Francisco Bay Area, (California, USA) from 1992 to 1995. Testing included serology for canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus (CPV), canine adenovirus, Leptospira interrogans, feline calicivirus (FCV), feline panleukopenia virus, feline herpesvirus, feline enteric coronavirus (FECV), feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia virus, Toxoplasma gondii, and Bartonella henselae. Testing was also performed for Dirofilaria immitis. Significantly more gray foxes were seropositive for CPV in the urban zone than in the rural zone. In addition, radio-tracking of gray foxes in the rural zone indicated that all three of the rural CPV-seropositive foxes had traveled into adjoining small towns, whereas only one of the 11 seronegative animals had done so. Significantly more bobcats were seropositive for FCV in the rural zone than in the urban zone. Individual bobcats with positive FCV antibody titers had patterns of movement that intercepted park inholdings where domestic cats lived. Bobcat samples were seronegative for all five of the other viral feline pathogens, with the exception of a FECV-seropositive bobcat. High seroprevalence was detected for B. henselae and T. gondii in both zones. Variation in the seroprevalence for different pathogens might be related to differences in the exposure of bobcats and foxes to domestic animals: in the urban zone, gray foxes were located in residential areas outside the park, whereas bobcats were not. Although for most of the pathogens examined there was no relationship between urbanization and exposure, our results for CPV in foxes and FCV in bobcats indicated that proximity to urban areas or contact with humans can increase the risk of disease exposure for wild carnivore populations. Combining behavioral information from radio-tracking with data on pathogen exposure or disease incidence can provide valuable insights into the ecology of wildlife disease that might be missed with broad-scale, population-level comparisons alone.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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