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USA Today: Cat Poop May Be Killing California Sea Otters

March 22, 2023
  • Species conservation
  • Toxoplasmosis

Toxic parasite presents 'scary new challenge'

Published in USA Today: March 22, 2023

A toxic parasite "very different from anything" experts have seen before has killed four California sea otters and they're concerned it could spread to other marine life and even humans. 

Melissa Miller with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife routinely examines dead sea otters as part of a decades-long state effort to help the recovery of the threatened species. 

But when she examined one dead otter in February 2020, she immediately knew she was seeing lesions she hadn't seen before. Since then, three other dead otters have been found infected with a rare and deadly form of a common parasite found in cats, other animals and humans.

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Cara Field
Southern Sea Otter