Monday March 27, 2023

Science Daily —

The preliminary findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, note that toxoplasmosis is common in sea otters and can be fatal. This unusual strain appears to be especially virulent and capable of rapidly killing healthy adult otters.

The rare strain of Toxoplasma hasn’t been detected on the California coast before so is likely to be a recent arrival. Scientists are concerned that if it contaminates the environment and the marine food chain, it could pose a public health risk.

At present, no infections with the strain have been reported in humans.

“Because this parasite can infect humans and other animals, we want others to be aware of our findings, quickly recognize cases if they encounter them and take precautions to prevent infection,” said corresponding author Melissa Miller of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We encourage others to take extra precautions if they observe inflamed systemic fat deposits in sea otters or other marine wildlife.”

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