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Toxoplasmosis parasite widespread even in healthy nene geese

Cara J

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Hawaii’s native geese may be too big for cats to hunt, but that doesn’t mean they are safe from the invasive predators. Parasites spread by cat feces kill about 4 percent of all nenes (Branta sandvicensis) — more than any other type of infection. Now, researchers have found that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is widespread even in geese that appear healthy. “There are so many feral cats here in Hawaii that I figured, if you’re seeing animals dying from the disease, then there’s got to be a larger number of animals that are infected but haven’t been killed by the parasite,” said Thierry Work, a wildlife disease specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the study recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. The nene — also known as Hawaiian goose — is the state bird of Hawaii, and like many native species endemic to the islands, it is threatened with extinction. To find out how widespread T. gondii is in nenes, the researchers sampled blood from 94 birds on three Hawaiian islands, and tested it for T. gondii antibodies. Animals never fully get rid of T. gondii, so it’s safe to assume that any goose [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/toxoplasmosis-parasite-widespread-even-in-healthy-nene-geese/

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