By Bronwyn Fancourt, University of Tasmania
Feral cats are a huge threat to our native wildlife, hunting and killing an estimated 75 million animals across Australia each and every night. But the killing spree doesn’t end there. There’s a parasite lurking in kitty’s litter that continues to kill wildlife long after the perpetrator has left the scene of the crime.
The killer is toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite is spread by cats but it can infect any bird or mammal. Around one-third of humans worldwide are infected with the parasite. But the deadly effects on our wildlife are often overlooked.
What does toxoplasmosis do?
In many animals, Toxoplasma infection causes nothing more than a mild case of the sniffles. If the animal is healthy, the immune system usually produces antibodies that keep the parasite under control.… Read the rest