Bacteria That Cause Human Diseases Found in Orca Blowholes
Scientists have found yet another way human beings may be hurting killer whales: Infectious diseases spilling into marine waters from land are showing up in their breath.
The microscopic pathogens looked familiar. There was Salmonella, for example, a bacteria found in poultry and associated with food poisoning in people who eat tainted eggs, fruits, or vegetables. There was Staphylococcus, including a type common on human skin but which, if inhaled, can cause pneumonia. And there were startling fungi—weird not because of what they were, but because of where they were found.
Scientists didn't find these microbes in human blood or in something living inside a barn. They were found in the exhaled breath of killer whales that move between Monterey Bay, California, and British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands.
Researchers trying to understand why an endangered population of orcas along North America's West Coast has dropped to a mere 78