(From Phys.org / by Justin Cox)– The study, published recently in Nature Scientific Reports, adds to years of work by a consortium of researchers led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The scientists were called upon to help decipher the mystery in the late 1990s when a parasite hosted by cats, Toxoplasma gondii, caused deaths in sea otters along the coast of California.
Wild and domestic cats are the only known hosts of T. gondii. The parasite can shed its infective egglike structures, called oocysts, in their feces. In soil, freshwater and seawater, these hardy oocysts can survive for over a year in some cases, infecting animals and people.
The latest study advances earlier work by tracking the parasite to see how human-driven land-use change and rainfall might be impacting pathogen movement from land to sea.
“This isn’t just about Toxoplasma,” said lead author Elizabeth VanWormer, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis at the time of the study. “Humans, pets, stray animals, livestock and wildlife can all shed pathogens that can be carried from land to sea in runoff after rainstorms. The way we develop our urban and rural coastlines—adding people, domestic animals, and hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt—can increase the flow of these pathogens into estuaries and oceans.
Read the full article here: http://phys.org/news/2016-08-coastal-precipitation-parasite-sea.html#jCp