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Zoonotic And Infectious Disease Surveillance In Central America: Honduran Feral Cats Positive For Toxoplasma, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Rickettsia, And Lyme Disease

Summer 2010

McCown ME, Grzeszak B. 10(3). 41 - 43. (Journal Article)


A recent zoonotic and infectious disease field surveillance study in Honduras resulted in the discovery of Toxoplasma, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Rickettsia, and Lyme disease with significantly high prevalence rates in a group of feral cats. All five diseases - toxoplasmosis,trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, rickettsiosis, and Lyme disease - were confirmed in this group of cats which maintained close contact to local civilians and U.S. personnel. These diseases are infectious to other animals and humans primarily through vector transmission or ingestion. In the austere Central and South American sites that Special Operations Forces (SOF) medics are deployed, the living conditions and close quarters are prime environments for the potential spread of infectious and zoonotic disease. This study's findings, as with previous veterinary disease surveillance studies, emphasize the critical need for continual and aggressive surveillance for zoonotic and infectious disease presence within animals in specific areas of operation (AO). The importance to SOF is that a variety of animals may be sentinels, hosts, or direct transmitters of disease to civilians and servicemembers. These studies are value-added tools to the U.S. military, specifically to a deploying or already deployed unit. The SOF medic must ensure that this value-added tool is utilized and that findings are applied to assure Special Forces Operational Detachment - Alpha (SFOD-A) health and, on a bigger scale, U.S. military force health protection and local civilian health.

PMID: 21049434