Cat Parasite Toxoplasma gondii Discovered in Arctic Beluga

Cat Parasite Toxoplasma gondii Discovered in Arctic Beluga

Scientists at the University of British Columbia have discovered beluga in the western Arctic carrying Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite common to cats which can cause blindness in humans.

The discovery of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in Arctic beluga has prompted a health advisory from researchers at the University of British Columbia. Of the whales tested, 14% were carrying the parasite, prompting warnings against eating whale meat raw. Inuit whalers traditionally hunt beluga and the meat is rarely cooked. Wood for fire to cook the meat was historically difficult to find on the Arctic tundra. The presence of the parasite much further north than its typical range has raised questions and concerns about the spread of pathogens from changes in sea temperature and disappearing Arctic ice.

Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite, often carried by cats. Many people carry the parasite without incident, but it can cause serious illness in people with comprised immune systems and pregnant women. Toxoplasmosis, the disease caused by the parasite, can cause blindess, inflammation of the brain, and can be fatal. The parasite can be killed by boiling or freezing, and scientists believe that icier conditions in the Arctic had previously prevented the parasite from moving into the region. Speaking to BBC News, molecular parasitologist Michael Grigg says, "Ice is a significant ecological barrier and it influences the way in which pathogens can be transmitted in nature and your risk of exposure. What we're finding with the changes ongoing in the Arctic is that we're getting new pathogens emerging to cause diseases in the region that haven't been there before." Higher temperatures in the Arctic as a result of climate change have allowed the parasite to survive longer. Eggs of the parasite were likely introduced into waterways from the feces of pet cats.

Dr. Grigg's team at the University of British Columbia has shown that other parasites are taking advantage of the change in sea ice levels to spread. In 2012, Grigg and his team showed that over 400 grey seals, mostly pups, in the North Atlantic died from Sarcocystis pinnipedi, a parasite that had previously only been seen in Arctic. The parasite migrated south, moving from ringed seals into gray seals, which have never previously encountered the parasite. The introduction of pathogens to a region where they have not previously existed can cause dramatic and devastating impacts on the ecology of the region. With no existing resistance or immunity present in the organisms living in a new region, parasites like S. pinnipedi and T. gondii can spread quickly and cause significant damage.

Source: National Geographic via BBC News

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I really, really did not expect to see so many "science news" on The Escapist recently, but I appreciate it.
As for Toxoplasma, those also affect a lot of pigs, by the way, so don't eat their meat raw, either. Just... don't eat raw meat, basically.
Pregnant women are tested to see whether they already had contact with the germs (which is good because then their body has antibodies and can protect the unborn) or not (which is bad, because the unborn could then get infected if infection of the mother occurs during the pregnancy).
Speaking of climate change, the increasing temperatures also results in a shift for the boundaries for a lot of other illnesses are northward, including malaria and the like.

You know, I was planning on eating raw whale meat for dinner, but I guess I'll have to make new plans now.

Wow.

That's...that's a lot of syllables. Good thing I don't have to spell that.

suprised and not suprised at the same time.

but as long as the whales dont suffer from any symptoms of the parasite, i'd say go forward Toxoplasma gondii, infect every whale species. maybe this way people will learn to leave them the fuck alone.

Skeleon:
I really, really did not expect to see so many "science news" on The Escapist recently, but I appreciate it.
As for Toxoplasma, those also affect a lot of pigs, by the way, so don't eat their meat raw, either. Just... don't eat raw meat, basically.
Pregnant women are tested to see whether they already had contact with the germs (which is good because then their body has antibodies and can protect the unborn) or not (which is bad, because the unborn could then get infected if infection of the mother occurs during the pregnancy).
Speaking of climate change, the increasing temperatures also results in a shift for the boundaries for a lot of other illnesses are northward, including malaria and the like.

it is also known that the gap that is left behind by extinct species is filled by other species.
in europe its the rats that have started to fill these gaps.

so we may see a rise in diseases soon...

Reed Spacer:
That's...that's a lot of syllables. Good thing I don't have to spell that.

Here's a better example for you: "Klebsiella pneumoniae subspecies ozaenae". Just some little bacteria, though, nothing that special, even. :-)

the bigger question is, what have whales been doing with cats that we don't know about

Okay, so the order of the day is don't chew on beluga whales unless you have proof they haven't been getting it on with cats.

Yay! Along with weather and higher taxes, we can now blame the spread of parasites on global warming too! Nevermind the fact that the Beluga migration path takes it below the Arctic Circle during the winter, where it could have come into contact with the parasite through numerous other causes. No no, it's global warming.

Dr. Grigg's team at the University of British Columbia has shown that other parasites are taking advantage of the change in sea ice levels to spread. In 2012, Grigg and his team showed that over 400 grey seals, mostly pups, in the North Atlantic died from Sarcocystis pinnipedi, a parasite that had previously only been seen in Arctic.

Sooooooooo let me get this straight: global warming is allowing a parasite that doesn't like the cold to travel further north. Global warming is also responsible an ice-dwelling parasite traveling further south. Wait...what?

RJ 17:
Yay! Along with weather and higher taxes, we can now blame the spread of parasites on global warming too! Nevermind the fact that the Beluga migration path takes it below the Arctic Circle during the winter, where it could have come into contact with the parasite through numerous other causes. No no, it's global warming.

Dr. Grigg's team at the University of British Columbia has shown that other parasites are taking advantage of the change in sea ice levels to spread. In 2012, Grigg and his team showed that over 400 grey seals, mostly pups, in the North Atlantic died from Sarcocystis pinnipedi, a parasite that had previously only been seen in Arctic.

Sooooooooo let me get this straight: global warming is allowing a parasite that doesn't like the cold to travel further north. Global warming is also responsible an ice-dwelling parasite traveling further south. Wait...what?

Welcome to global warming: The phenomenon that we don't have the slightest clue how it works or what it will cause to happen, no matter who tells you otherwise. Remember, environmentalists were utterly terrified of global cooling in the 80s, up to and including calls to spray greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to stop the temperature fall.

OT: Great, so we have crazy cat ladies swimming around under the Arctic. They're EVERYWHERE, I TELL YOU! EVERYWHERE!

 

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