A recent study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B has connected the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii commonly found in cat feces to fatal toxoplasmosis in wild southern sea otters.
The Toxoplasma agents spread to the ocean from cat feces on land. Toxoplasma oocysts (eggs) accrue in kelp beds, where they are eaten by snails. Otters then eat the snails. To help prevent Toxoplasma gondii from entering waterways, researchers recommend that cat feces be bagged and thrown away in the trash rather than flushed down the toilet because the oocysts can survive wastewater treatment and end up in the ocean.
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