Beluga Whales Infected With Cat Parasite
Poses health threat to Inuits
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 15, 2014 3:35 PM CST
Beluga whales were found to host cat parasites.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The Toxoplasma gondii parasite, carried by cats, can cause rats to stop fearing the felines; in humans, it can cause blindness. Now, beluga whales in the Arctic have been discovered to have the parasite—and researchers fear it could infect the people who eat them. "The only way to kill (the parasites) is to freeze them, dessicate them, or boil them," a researcher tells the Independent. Trouble is, Inuits who eat beluga don't necessarily cook it thoroughly, the BBC reports.

Toxoplasma gondii has turned up in more than 10% of belugas living in the Beaufort Sea off Canada, the Smithsonian notes. A health advisory has been issued to Inuits living in the area. How did a cat parasite manage to reach Arctic belugas? One possibility: After cats were brought to the region, their feces ended up in local water and, eventually, the ocean. Warming weather can also allow mammals who typically live further south and carry different germs to mix with northern populations. Click for more on how scientists are watching whales—from space.

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
FarmerMichael
Feb 16, 2014 4:37 PM CST
Yet another thing the water treatment plants don't filter out as waste water flows to the sea...the cat wastes that most pregnant women are told to stay completely away from during pregnancy.
derek
Feb 15, 2014 11:22 PM CST
Cats Rule!
iq145
Feb 15, 2014 10:10 PM CST
Well what do you know. i guess it's time to stop killing and eating cetaceans, isn't it? http://www.newser.com/story/181041/japan-launches-dolphin-slaughter.html http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2009/09/23/news/mercury-danger-in-dolphin-meat/#.UwA49pWPLVI