The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in humans, commonly known as the "kitty litter disease" that's potentially dangerous in pregnant women, has been identified in the tissues of a Beaufort Sea beluga whale killed by Inuit hunters. Some scientists believe the spread of the parasite is related to climate change.
"Because this parasite can cause serious diseases in people, we need to pay attention to its emergence in the North as a new potential threat to food safety," said Michael Grigg, who co-authored the research.
Grigg, a molecular parasitologist with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and an adjunct professor at [the University of British Columbia], said that while traditional Inuit processing and cooking methods should kill the parasite, vulnerable people such as pregnant women should be "extra vigilant" about handling and eating raw whale meat.
A UBC news release noted that the parasite is "not a major concern" for healthy people.