Gadgets

Parasite strain from cats killing sea otters

ANI | August 24, 2019 02:16 PM

Washington D.C. [USA]: Researchers have identified that infection by land-based protozoan parasites such as Toxoplasma and related parasites that come from domestic cats are common causes of illness and death of southern sea otters.

The study, published in the journal, 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B,' marked the first time a genetic link has been clearly established between the Toxoplasma strains in felid hosts and parasites causing fatal disease in marine wildlife.

"This is decades in the making. We now have a significant link between specific types of the parasite and the outcome for fatal toxoplasmosis in sea otters. We are actually able to link deaths in sea otters with wild and feral cats on land," said corresponding author Karen Shapiro, an associate professor with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and its One Health Institute.

Wild and domestic cats are the only known hosts of Toxoplasma, in which the parasite forms egglike stages, called oocysts, in their faeces. Shapiro led the initial effort to show how oocysts accumulate in kelp forests and are taken up by snails, which are eaten by sea otters.

For this study, the authors characterised Toxoplasma strains for more than 100 stranded southern sea otters examined by the CDFW between 1998 and 2015.

CDFW Veterinary Pathologist Melissa Miller assessed the otters for Toxoplasma as a primary or contributing cause of death.

The scientists compared pathology data with the parasite strains found in sea otters and nearby wild and domestic cats to identify connections between the disease-causing pathogen and its hosts.

The study's results highlight how infectious agents like Toxoplasma can spread from cat faeces on land to the sea, leading to detrimental impacts on marine wildlife.

Southern sea otters are among the most intensely studied marine mammals in California because they are a threatened species and an iconic animal for the state.

They live within just a few hundred meters of the coastline, allowing for the close observation that enables a wealth of scientific data.

Previous research showed that up to 70 per cent of stranded southern sea otters were infected with Toxoplasma, yet the infection becomes fatal for only a fraction of them.

Shapiro noted that Toxoplasma can also affect other wildlife species, but there are more robust data for the otters.

"Toxoplasma is one heavily studied pathogen that we care about, but there are many other viruses and bacteria that are on land and being flushed to the ocean that we probably aren't aware of yet," Shapiro said.

People can help reduce the spread of Toxoplasma by keeping their cats inside and disposing of cat faeces in a bag in the trash, not outdoors or in the toilet because wastewater treatment is not effective in killing oocysts.

Have something to say? Post your comment
Must Read
AAP legislators meet ailing Brahmpura at PGI, wish him speedy recovery
AAP legislators meet ailing Brahmpura at PGI, wish him speedy recovery
2nd International Conference of Pharmacy: MRSPTU Research scholar shine by winning best research prize on malaria disease
2nd International Conference of Pharmacy: MRSPTU Research scholar shine by winning best research prize on malaria disease
Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi flags off 4th Shivalik Hill Drive Car rally
Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi flags off 4th Shivalik Hill Drive Car rally
Govt should resolve sheller owners’ issue soon to save farmers' from being ‘fleeced’ by ‘mandi’ mafia: Bhagwant Mann
Govt should resolve sheller owners’ issue soon to save farmers' from being ‘fleeced’ by ‘mandi’ mafia: Bhagwant Mann
EC announces schedule of bypolls for Phagwara, Mukerian, Dakha and Jalalabad constituencies
EC announces schedule of bypolls for Phagwara, Mukerian, Dakha and Jalalabad constituencies
Anti-larva teams detect 15 cases of dengue larva in city
Anti-larva teams detect 15 cases of dengue larva in city
EC asks parties not to use plastic, polythene  in poll material
EC asks parties not to use plastic, polythene in poll material
Get 10 Arm license services through e-Sewa
Get 10 Arm license services through e-Sewa
Thousands of crores would be saved through reverse tendering of projects bidded under TDP regime: AP Irrigation Minister
Thousands of crores would be saved through reverse tendering of projects bidded under TDP regime: AP Irrigation Minister
By-elections for 1 LS, 64 Assembly to be held  on Oct 21
By-elections for 1 LS, 64 Assembly to be held on Oct 21
Hrithik and Tiger dance face off in 'Jai Jai Shivshankar' from 'War' will leave you spellbound!
Hrithik and Tiger dance face off in 'Jai Jai Shivshankar' from 'War' will leave you spellbound!
Navratri celebrations in Rajkot: Craftsmen portray message of united India and Article 370 through art
Navratri celebrations in Rajkot: Craftsmen portray message of united India and Article 370 through art