Is Climate Change Increasing the Disease Risk for Arctic Marine Mammals?
Climate change may be increasing the risk of disease for marine mammals in the Arctic, experts say.
Ice-free parts of the Arctic seem to be opening up new areas for more than just shipping companies. A new species of parasite, Sarcocystis pinnipedi, is on the move south, infecting gray seals and killing off as much as 20 percent of a population on a single island, researchers reported at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on February 13.
This new parasite is a close cousin of S. canis, which can afflict bears and cause hepatitis or encephalitis in young dogs.
Parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii, found in cat feces and kitty litter, are also finding new areas of opportunity, making their way north and infecting beluga whales.
"Climate change is an unprecedented opportunity for pathogens