[MARMAM] New paper published: Toxoplasma gondii in polar bears and their marine mammal preys

Silje-Kristin Jensen siljekristinjensen at gmail.com
Mon Apr 19 07:02:15 PDT 2010

Dear colleagues of the MARMAM list:

I am proud to announce that the following paper is now available in Polar
Biology: Volume 33, Issue 5 (2010), Page 599:
The prevalence of *Toxoplasma gondii* in polar bears and their marine mammal
prey: evidence for a marine transmission pathway? Abstract
Little is known about the prevalence of the parasite *Toxoplasma gondii* in
the arctic marine food chain of Svalbard, Norway. In this study, plasma
samples were analyzed for *T. gondii* antibodies using a direct
agglutination test. Antibody prevalence was 45.6% among polar bears (*Ursus
maritimus*), 18.7% among ringed seals (*Pusa hispida*) and 66.7% among adult
bearded seals (*Erignathus barbatus*) from Svalbard, but no sign of
antibodies were found in bearded seal pups, harbour seals (*Phoca vitulina*),
white whales (*Delphinapterus leucas*) or narwhals (*Monodon monoceros*)
from the same area. Prevalence was significantly higher in male polar bears
(52.3%) compared with females (39.3%), likely due to dietary differences
between the sexes. Compared to an earlier study, *T. gondii* prevalence in
polar bears has doubled in the past decade. Consistently, an earlier study
on ringed seals did not detect *T. gondii*. The high recent prevalence in
polar bears, ringed seals and bearded seals could be caused by an increase
in the number or survivorship of oocysts being transported via the North
Atlantic Current to Svalbard from southern latitudes. Warmer water
temperatures have led to influxes of temperate marine invertebrate
filter-feeders that could be vectors for oocysts and warmer water is also
likely to favour higher survivorship of oocycts. However, a more diverse
than normal array of migratory birds in the Archipelago recently, as well as
a marked increase in cruise-ship and other human traffic are also potential
sources of *T. gondii*.

The paper can be downloaded from the journals website (
http://www.springerlink.com/content/857776771v377365/) or contact the first
authour for pdf copies or any questions (siljekristinjensen at gmail.com)

All the best
Silje-Kristin Jensen
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