November 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm #1147MikeKeymaster
Lets think about this, okay?
(quote)”Parasites from cat feces are causing deadly brain damage in
California sea otters. A combination of toxic chemicals “
Can anyone say aerosol spraying?
Pass the word and raise awareness at every opportunity.
Best to all,
FOXNEWS.COM HOME > SCIENCE
Marine Mammals Contract Human Diseases
Thursday, February 23, 2006
By Bjorn Carey
ST. LOUIS — Parasites from cat feces are causing deadly brain damage
in California sea otters. A combination of toxic chemicals and
herpes virus is killing off California sea lions.
All of these animals live near coastlines, spending a majority of
their lives in the same waters people swim and surf in. Their daily
cuisines consist of the same foods we serve up in clam shacks and
fine seafood restaurants.
The difference between humans and these animals, says NOAA
spokesperson Paul Sandifer, is that the animals deal with the ocean
conditions, good or bad, full time. People can pick and choose when
to go into the water and what to eat.
As a result, marine animals, particularly mammals, play an important
role as sentinel species. When one of these species gets sick or
dies from something in the water, it is often a warning to humans of
disease to come.
“Some of what we throw or flow into the water will return to bite us
in the gluteus maximus. You can bet on it,” said Sandifer, who
organized a panel of marine scientists to present their work here
last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the
The red tide algae blooms that turn waters off Florida’s coast rust-
colored are becoming more frequent. Karenia brevis algae,
responsible for red tide, produce toxins called brevetoxins, which
can kill fish, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals such as
The toxins seem to be sending more people to emergency rooms, too,
said Gregory Bossart of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.
In 2005, 151 manatees died from exposure to brevetoxin. Post-mortem
examinations revealed that the stuff was affecting their lungs.
“The animals are actually hemorrhaging into their lungs,” Bossart
said. “They’re dying of acute toxic shock.”
Airborne brevetoxins, Bossart said, can affect human respiratory
systems the same way as a bad cold. A five-year study revealed that
emergency room admissions for respiratory illness, including
pneumonia and asthma attacks, increase by 54 percent during red tide
“While the toxin may not kill you, it will make you sick and immuno-
suppressed. It may make you susceptible to other infections,”
Bossart said. “What’s disturbing is that humans appear to respond to
prolonged brevetoxin exposure in a way similar to manatees that die
Bossart recently published evidence that algae blooms may be of
danger to humans and marine animals even after they disappear.
Brevetoxins collect in filter-feeding shellfish. Within hours of
ingesting shellfish with high levels of the toxin, humans can
experience temporary neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP). Symptoms
of NSP include nausea and diarrhea, dizziness, muscle aches, and
tingling and numbness in the tongue, lips, throat, and extremities.
Currently, scientists only monitor shellfish during a bloom. But
Bossart discovered that the concentration of brevetoxins in the
water and in sea grass continued to increase months after blooms
“After the bloom, the toxins persist in some of the same food items
that we eat,” Bossart told LiveScience.
Deadly Cat Poop
A deadly parasite that’s the third most common cause of death due to
food-borne disease in the U.S. is also killing California sea otters
at a rapid rate.
Toxoplasma gondii, which causes the disease toxoplasmosis in humans,
has been found in 52 percent of dead otters and 37 percent of the
The parasites are tiny, mysterious, and tough, said Pat Conrad of
the University of California at Davis. They can invade an organism
and stay dormant for years. When the opportunity presents itself,
they will emerge from their dormant form and attack the animal’s
In otters, the parasite causes tremors, incoordination, and
seizures. It is the primary cause of death in some coastal otter
“Some rescued otters need to be hand fed squid, their tremors are so
bad,” Conrad said.
But, Toxoplasma gondii can only reproduce in cats, which shed the
parasites in their feces. Although cats will only shed new parasites
once in a lifetime, millions come out at once.
This happens on land and in kitty litter boxes, though, so how are
coastal otter populations becoming infected?
Conrad says the major culprit is freshwater runoff, which washes
feces from backyards, streets, and illegally dumped kitty litter
into streams, rivers, and ultimately the ocean. Indeed, Conrad’s
studies have indicated that infection risk potential for otters
living near freshwater runoff increases three times. For the otters
of Morro Bay, the risk is more than nine times increased.
Cat owners should try to keep their kitties indoors and to properly
dispose of kitty litter at a landfill to reduce the risk of
spreading parasites, Conrad said. She also notes that eco-friendly,
flushable kitty litter may contribute to the problem since sewage
treatment systems do not effectively eliminate the parasite from
Scientists estimate that up to 25 percent of the U.S. population may
be infected with this same parasite, but people rarely show
symptoms. If they do, it might just appear as a flu-like illness.
Pregnant women infected with the parasite can pass it on to their
developing babies, increasing the chance of an abortion or
miscarriage. If a baby survives, it could have severe brain damage
that may or may not be evident at birth.
Of the infected otters, 72 percent harbor a parasite strain not seen
often in humans. Otters cannot pass the parasite to humans, but
because of their chronic exposure, they act as an early warning for
Sea Lion Cancer
For California sea lions, a combination of persistent organic
pollutants (POPs) and herpes virus similar to the one that infects
humans has led to an increase in cancer.
Over the past 15 years, 17 percent of dead and stranded sea lions
have been diagnosed with urogenital cancer, striking females in the
cervix and males in the penis and prostate.
The cancer spreads to other organ systems in sea lions the same as
in humans. Eventually it erodes the spinal cord, paralyzing them and
causing them to wash up on the shore or strand in the open water,
said Frances Gulland of the Marine Mammal Center.
Many adult sea lions also have the herpes virus—up to 43 percent of
males and 23 percent of females. The higher rate for males is
because it is a sexually transmitted disease, Gulland said, and
males have more sexual partners.
But, since some herpes-infected animals are without cancer, Gulland
suspects that POPs, which can cause cancer on their own, are teaming
up with the virus to increase cancer rates.
While POPs are in the water, sea lions are exposed to them mainly
through the food they eat, in which the toxic chemicals accumulate.
“These are top level predators,” Gulland said. “Like us, they eat
anchovies, squid, salmon, and mussels — they are sentinels for human
health because they share our ecosystems and prey. We may see
impacts in sea lions before people — they could be an early warning.”
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