Saturday, 15 February 2014
Cat parasite found in Arctic Beluga
The cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause blindness in people, has been identified in Beluga in the western Arctic.
The discovery by University of British Columbia scientists has prompted a health advisory to Inuit people in the region who eat the whale's meat.
Researchers say it is an example of how the warming of the Arctic is allowing the freer movement of pathogens.
Icier conditions in the past acted as an obstruction to infectious agents.
“Ice is a significant ecological barrier and it influences the way in which pathogens can be transmitted in nature and your risk of exposure,” said molecular parasitologist Michael Grigg.
“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,” he told BBC News.
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