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Diseases that can spread from wild animals to dogs to humans

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Diseases that can spread from wild animals to dogs to humans
March 14, 2011 08:28PM
Fatal diseases pass from wolf to dog to human in remote B.C. communities: study
By Judith Lavoie, Postmedia News March 14, 2011 7:44 PM

Victoria--Diseases, some of which can be lethal, are being passed between dogs, wolves and people in remote B.C communities where there is a dearth of veterinary care, a new study has found.

The report by researchers from Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the University of Calgary, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, tested dogs in five remote communities in British Columbia — Hartley Bay, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, Bella Bella and Oweekeno.

The diseases could threaten wolf populations and pose a human health hazard, the study found.

Researchers found that dogs that are often allowed to run free and come into contact with wolves and bears have been sharing more than scent messages with their wild relatives, and diseases are being transmitted between populations.

"Uncontrolled disease in domestic animals is an issue of animal welfare," said one of the study's authors, Paul Paquet, Raincoast senior scientist.

"Some of the diseases we detected, notably parvovirus and distemper, can be lethal and have been linked with population declines in wildlife."

Humans, and especially children, who come into close contact with dogs are also at risk, said lead author Heather Bryan, Raincoast biologist and doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary.

Diseases identified that could infect people include leptospiral bacteria that can cause kidney or liver diseases, water-borne parasites giardia and cryptosporidium that cause diarrhea, toxocara canis, a roundworm that can cause tissue damage in the eyes, and the tapeworm echinococcus — found in dogs and wolves — that forms cysts in organs.

A canine respiratory virus that was only recently identified in North America was also found in some of the communities, Bryan said.

"It's amazing how quickly diseases can be transmitted . . . A big part of it is making people aware of these risks and they really need regular veterinary services," Bryan said. "Dogs need to be dewormed and vaccinated regularly to prevent these diseases."

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