Folia Parasitologica 61 401-410 (2014) | DOI: 10.14411/fp.2014.062
Helminth parasites of wild and domestic felines pose a direct or potential threat to human health. Since helminths depend on multiple environmental factors that make their transmission possible, it is imperative to predict the areas where these parasites may complete the transmission to potential hosts. Bobcats, Lynx rufus (Schreberer), are the most abundant and widely-distributed wild felid species in North America. The increase of population densities of bobcats raises concerns about their importance as reservoirs of pathogens and parasites that may affect wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Our objective was to predict the potential presence of the tapeworm Taenia rileyi Loewen, 1929, the fluke Alaria marcianae (La Rue, 1917) and the roundworm Toxocara cati (Schrank, 1788) in southern Illinois. The empirical presence of these parasites in localities across the region was analysed in combination with a sampling bias layer (i.e. bobcat presence) and with environmental data: layers of water, soil, land cover, human density and climate variables in MAXENT to create maps of potential presence for these three species in an area of 46 436 km2. All climatic variables were low contributors (0.0-2.0% contribution to model creation) whereas land cover surfaced as an important variable for the presence of A. marcianae (7.6%) and T. cati (6.3%); human density (4.8%) was of secondary importance for T. rileyi. Variables of importance likely represent habitat requirements necessary for the completion of parasite life cycles. Larger areas of potential presence were found for the feline specialist T. rileyi (85%) while potential presence was less likely for A. marcianae (73%), a parasite that requires multiple aquatic intermediate hosts. This study provides information to wildlife biologists and health officials regarding the potential impacts of growing bobcat populations in combination with complex and changing environmental factors.
Received: February 3, 2014; Accepted: June 5, 2014; Prepublished online: October 16, 2014; Published: October 30, 2014