Can cats protect people from Lyme disease?
Domestication of cats is thought to date to the Neolithic and to have been driven by the need to control rodents that destroyed stored food. In developed countries, modern pest control methods have rendered the traditional role of cats largely redundant and the hunting tendency of cats is now viewed in a more negative light as contributing to the decline of birds. However, increasing residential use of formerly agricultural and wild areas are leading to increased human and wildlife contact. This increased contact leads to an increased frequency of zoonoses, diseases transferred from animals to humans. Of these zoonoses, Lyme disease is one of the most frequent in North
America. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection contracted from the bite of an infected tick. Ticks need wild animals to provide them with their blood meals and wild animals also acts as reservoirs of the Lyme disease bacteria. This work will accomplish two goals. First, we will determine the key wild animal reservoirs that support tick populations. Second, we will assess how frequently these wild animal species are predated by cats. TO BE CONT'D