Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals

Date:
June 5, 2008
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Researchers have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to new research.

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to research presented today at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, considered to be the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite, the only known reservoir of the infectious form of the parasite (the oocyst) are cats.

Over the past decade, toxoplasma infection has appeared in a variety of sea mammals including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. It has also become a major cause of death in sea otters living off the coast of California. It is estimated that approximately 17% of sea otter deaths can be attributed to toxoplasma. While many believe fresh water runoff contaminated with cat feces is to blame, there is no definitive science on the source of infection.

"The question that drives our research is how are marine mammals from the Arctic Circle to Australia infected by a parasite that is spread primarily through the consumption of infectious cat feces and infected meat? Based on the global prevalence of T. gondii infections, we hypothesize that migratory filter feeders, specifically northern anchovies, are serving to spread T. gondii throughout the ocean," says Gloeta Massie, a graduate student who conducted the research with Associate Professor Michael Black.

As there is no previously published research on the ability of anchovies to filter oocysts, that was the first step towards proving their hypothesis. Massie and Black exposed northern anchovies to the parasite, and then, using molecular techniques, tested for the presence of the parasite within the fish. They detected T. gondii DNA in 66% of the exposed fish.

Now that they have shown that anchovies can filter oocysts from the water, the next step is to determine the infectivity of exposed anchovies to mammals.

"Do our research findings mean that you should stop eating anchovy pizza? No. T. gondii oocysts are destroyed by high heat. Unfortunately, marine mammals do not have the option of cooking their food before they eat it. As anchovies are considered prey for practically every major predatory marine fish, mammal and bird, if the exposed anchovies harbor infectious oocysts, this could present a possible transmission path of T. gondii in the marine environment," says Massie.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602103404.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2008, June 5). Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602103404.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602103404.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins