Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Forty percent of river otters in England may be infected with parasitic disease toxoplasmosis

Study suggests that toxoplasmosis occurs in marine and freshwater species

July 2013. A study by 11 British scientists who examined 271 Eurasian otter bodies across England found that 108 (almost 40 percent) of those animals tested positive for the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis which is described in the study as a "globally important [disease] with potentially devastating health impacts both for humans and a range of domestic and wild species."

‘Widespread faecal contamination of freshwater ecosystems'
"The relatively high prevalence of [the toxoplasmosis parasite] in a predominantly [fish-eating] freshwater mammal suggests widespread faecal contamination of freshwater ecosystems," the report said. It is the first widespread study of the toxoplasmosis parasite in UK wildlife and the first such extensive study of it in Eurasian otters, which are described as a sentinel species of fresh water, reflecting the overall health of these ecosystems.

Marine species suffering from toxoplasmosis
The toxoplasmosis parasite has, for many years, been considered to be more terrestrial in nature and impact, but several reports have indicated significant infections in a range of both marine and freshwater species. Previous reports also link toxoplasmosis to deaths of Hawaiian monk seals, deaths of Pacific Coast otters, and infections in 75 captive marine mammals from four facilities in southern and central regions in Mexico.

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