A parasite, previously found in cats, that can cause brain disease in humans has now been found in Arctic beluga whales.
Pregnant women are often warned to avoid changing kitty litter in order to stay clear of the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. which can cause miscarriage and also blindness. The find by scientists now raises health concerns for indigenous Inuit people who eat beluga whale meat.
Whale and dolphin species can carry high levels of mercury and other harmful substances in their meat and blubber. Independent studies of children in the Faroe Islands, for example, have directly linked brain, cardiovascular and other development problems to mums who have eaten whale meat whilst pregnant. Other, recent studies have shown a direct link between the Parkinsons disease in adults and eating pilot whale meat. Despite these clear health issues, the hunts and consumption of whale meat in various countries continues.