Dr. Heather Fritz
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Summary: Sea otters were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s and listed as a threatened species. Following protection, sea otter populations failed to recover at predicted rates. A closer look into the health of southern sea otters revealed that protozoal encephalitis was a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Those infections were due to two terrestrial protozoal pathogens, Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona. An interdisciplinary One Health approach was taken to determine how a terrestrial pathogen was causing such profound disease in marine mammals.
During this webinar, participants will learn about the biology and transmission of Toxoplasma gondii, the importance of the oocyst stage of the parasite, and the routes through which sea otters become infected.