Researchers have found yet another reason to be wary of eating whale meat, and it could be deadly.
Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most successful pathogens on Earth, has been discovered in the tissue of marine mammals -- namely, beluga whales in the Arctic. In a groundbreaking study, researchers at the University of Vancouver in British Columbia tested hundreds of beluga whales in the Beaufort Sea, and showed that 14 percent of the animals harboured the infection.
"This is now emerging in the Arctic and there's not much we can do about that. This is the new normal," Professor Michael Grigg told the Guardian, adding that while the infected whales did not appear ill, the sick ones just may not have been found by the team.
This is a problem not only for belugas, but also for the Inuit populations who often eat strips of their meat in stews. While the infection is usually harmless 10 percent of people may develop flu-like symptoms or eye problems that can lead to blindness. Even worse, the infection has also been linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.