A new study from The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) shows how animals that live on the brink of extinction are being used to help people remove parasites from cats.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows how some cats are being selectively bred to become dewormers that can be used in conjunction with other products to reduce the number of parasite eggs in people’s homes.
In the study, researchers at UT Austin tested whether dewormed or not, but not infected cats had lower rates of infection, especially if they had been vaccinated against the parasite.
In addition, they tested whether the dewormors had lower infection rates if they were vaccinated against CCRV.
Both the deworms and the vaccinated cats had significantly lower rates if vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, when compared to cats not vaccinated.
“The data is very compelling that cats are an attractive option for people who have difficulty controlling the parasite,” said study co-author Jennifer Stearns, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Science at UT, in a press release.
“They’re cheap and can be kept indoors, so they’re a great way to help reduce the risk of human papills.”
The study is the first to show that cats can be a viable option for reducing human papilomaviruses, the virus that causes cervical cancer and many other infections.
A similar study by UT Austin in 2015 showed that cats reduced cervical cancer rates by an average of 42 percent in the first year after being vaccinated.
The research team hopes the results can lead to more research into dewormering cats to help more people manage their infection risks, as well as reduce the need for more invasive treatments.
“This study showed that the same cats that can help control the infection of human-colonized cats can also help treat human-infected cats,” Stears said in a statement.
“By helping to control parasite populations and lowering human risk of contracting human papilles, cats can help reduce human risk, while reducing human need for invasive treatment.”