A red flag has been raised among marine mammal experts after at least four sea otters died in California of a parasite commonly found in cat feces.
This parasite has also been reported to infect humans Guardian According to England’s National Health Service, Thursday, infections usually go unnoticed.
Last week, British media reported that a study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the University of California, Davis, found a never-before-seen parasite in aquatic animals.
The existence of this unusual form of toxoplasmosis, caused by the parasite Toxoplasma, is worrisome because, according to the authors of the study, its extent could not be estimated. The same strain of the parasite has reportedly killed at least four sea otters and has previously been found in cougars.
In particular, if the parasite contaminates the environment and the marine food chain, it could pose a public health risk, the university said in a press release.
“We’re seeing something we’ve never seen before, and we want people who work with marine mammals to be aware of these strange findings,” said DFW Wildlife Veterinarian Scientist Melissa Miller. Take extra precautions.
Typically, this strain of the parasite is found in the feces of cats. The first hypothesis was that sea otters would have been infected with the parasite on shore by runoff.
If she doesn’t want to start a war on cats, the scientist advises cat owners to keep them indoors and make sure to dispose of their litter in “environmentally friendly” packaging.