from the delicious-exotic-meats dept.
Inuit whalers are being warned away from eating raw meat (muktuk) from Beluga whales after researchers at the University of British Columbia's Marine Mammal Research Unit identified infection in whales by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
Toxoplasma is usually identified as being carried by cats and is often cited as a reason why pregnant women should not clean out litter boxes. According to the CDC, effects of toxoplasmosis related illness can range from "flu-like symptoms" to "causing damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs".
Speculation is that the rising temperatures in the Arctic are allowing new pathogens to spread to the North. "Ice is a significant ecological barrier and it influences the way in which pathogens can be transmitted in nature and your risk of exposure" said molecular parasitologist Michael Grigg. "What we're finding with the changes ongoing in the Arctic is that we're getting new pathogens emerging to cause diseases in the region that haven't been there before."