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.

Related Articles


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 November 26, 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 November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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