Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Might migrating birds have infected the Svalbard Arctic fox with parasites?

Kristin Wear Prestrud comes from Sætre in Hurum, and graduated from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in 1999.

After working for some five years at the veterinary school, primarily in the small animal clinic, she has for the last four years been employed as a Research Fellow at the Section of Arctic veterinary Medicine, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in Tromsø.

The cat is the main host for Toxoplasma and spreads the infection in its droppings. Previous research has shown that isolated island groups without cats are in reality free of the parasite. Man can also be infected by eating meat from infected animals, and it can be transmitted to the embryo and deform it if the mother is infected while pregnant.

In her doctoral thesis, Kristin Wear Prestrud studied the distribution of the parasite in different animal species on Svalbard, and looked at the relationships with Toxoplasma strains in other parts of the world. Antibodies to Toxoplasma were found in the blood of the Arctic fox, polar bear, walrus, Svalbard reindeer, the sibling vole and several avian species.

Forty-three percent of the Arctic foxes sampled bore antibodies to the parasite. The incidence in polar bears was also high, and in walrus somewhat lower. Of avian species, the barnacle goose was the most common at 7% positive. The high incidence in Arctic foxes and polar bears was unexpected, because cats are forbidden on Svalbard and the only cats on the archipelago are some illegal ones at Barentsburg.

Kristin Wear Prestrud showed in her doctoral thesis that migratory birds are a probable source of infection for the parasite Toxoplasma gondii on Svalbard (the Spitsbergen archipelago), which has then infected the Arctic fox population, among other animals. The parasite can infect all animals and birds, including man, and normally produces few symptoms. It may, however, lead to the disease of toxoplasmosis, and over the years several Arctic foxes have been found dead from this infection on Svalbard.

In her thesis, Prestrud described migrating birds as a possible route of infection of Toxoplasma in the Arctic fox population on Svalbard. Genetic analyses showed that the parasite on Svalbard is identical to the most common Toxoplasma strains one finds in Europe, which supports the idea of a European source of infection on Svalbard.

Several bird species that breed on Svalbard overwinter in the more populated parts of Europe, where they might become infected. Geese, which graze on cultivated land during their migration, are especially suspect, and are a preferred prey of the Arctic fox during the summer. Transmission from mother to unborn offspring in the uterus may be significant for the Arctic fox, but probably not in polar bears, and it is likely that the level of infection in the fox and polar bear populations is also maintained by the animals eating their own species, which primarily occurs during the wintertime when available food is scarce.

Kristin W. Prestrud defended her thesis for the degree of Ph. D. at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, with the title "Toxoplasma gondii in the high arctic archipelago of Svalbard", on October 28, 2008.

Magnhild Jenssen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>