Medindia

X

Cat Parasite in Western Arctic Beluga May be Infectious

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  February 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM Research News   - G J E 4
An infectious form of the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii has now been discovered in western Arctic Beluga by a team of scientists, prompting a health advisory to the people who eat whale meat.
 Cat Parasite in Western Arctic Beluga May be Infectious
Cat Parasite in Western Arctic Beluga May be Infectious
Advertisement

The same team also discovered a new strain of the parasite Sarcocystis, previously sequestered in the icy north, that is responsible for killing 406 grey seals in the north Atlantic in 2012.

Advertisement
Presenting their findings today at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Michael Griggand Stephen Raverty from UBC's Marine Mammal Research Unit say that the "big thaw" occurring inthe Arctic is allowing never-before-seen movement of pathogens between the Arctic and the lower latitudes.

"Ice is a major eco-barrier for pathogens," says Michael Grigg, a molecular parasitologist with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and an adjunct professor at UBC."What we're seeing with the big thaw is the liberation of pathogens gaining access to vulnerable new hosts and wreaking havoc."

Toxoplasmosis, also known as kitty litter disease, is the leading cause of infectious blindness in humans and can be fatal to fetuses and to people and animals with compromised immune systems.

"Belugas are not only an integral part of Inuitculture and folklore, but also a major staple of the traditional diet. Hunters and community members are very concerned about food safety and security," says Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands' Animal Health Centre and an adjunct professor at UBC. Raverty has led the systematic sampling and screening of hunter-harvested Beluga for 14 years.

Grigg has also identified the culprit of the 2012 grey seal die-off as a new strain of Sarcocystis. While not harmful to humans, the Arctic parasite, which was named Sarcocystis pinnipedi at the AAAS meeting today, has now killed an endangered Steller sealion, seals, Hawaiian monk seals, walruses, polar and grizzly bears in Alaska and as far south as British Columbia.



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All