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The Terrestrial World Is Giving The Ocean World Flu

February 24, 2012

Parasites and pathogens that infect humans, pets and farm animals are increasingly showing up in marine mammals.

This isn’t really surprising, but it’s just one more reminder that EVERYTHING humans do matters to the system as a whole.

Here’s the gist (full story here):

Between 1998 and 2010, nearly 5,000 marine mammal carcasses were recovered and necropsied along the British Columbia and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., including whales, dolphins and porpoises, sea lions and otters.

“Infectious diseases accounted for up to 40 per cent of mortalities of these marine animals,” says Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the Animal Health Centre in the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and an adjunct professor in UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit.

“In many cases, the diseases found in these marine mammals have similar or genetically identical agents as those infecting pets and livestock. We don’t yet know how these diseases are affecting the health of marine mammals” says Raverty.

There are no obvious policy responses, except to say that it is increasingly important that the earth be viewed as a single, integrated, system with no barriers.

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