Summer 2004
More on Toxoplasmosis
 

 

 Further to an article on Killer Cats in the Winter 2002 edition of Keeping Marsupials the following report from www.ninemsn.com.au seemed appropriate.     The report was from the middle of 2001 and highlights some of the problems associated with our domestic furry friends.    As we all know cats carry a disease known as toxoplasmosis which can be fatal in marsupials (and also dangerous to humans, especially pregnant women, as it affects the unborn child).

 The report goes on to say:-

 “A disease carried by stray cats has killed five kangaroos and three wallabies at Ohio's world famous Columbus Zoo and forced the closure of an Australian wildlife exhibit.

The parasitic disease, toxoplasmosis, swept through the zoo's popular Kangaroo Walkabout display over the past two weeks, taking a heavy toll on the inhabitants.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium spokeswoman, Patty Peters, said that in addition to the five kangaroos and three wallabies that had died, another four kangaroos and a wallaby were sick and fighting the disease.  "Toxoplasmosis in macropods (kangaroo family) is usually fatal," she said.

The exhibit closed 11 days ago after nine kangaroos and four wallabies began showing symptoms of toxoplasmosis.    The disease is believed to have been spread by stray cats that were living in a food barn at the zoo.    They defecated in hay used in the kangaroo exhibit.    "It is believed that the kangaroos and wallabies may have contracted the parasite through hay contaminated by the faeces of the stray cats," said Ms Peters.

Of the 16 kangaroos and wallabies originally on display, only three appear to be healthy.     Their condition is being monitored by zoo staff for any sign of the disease.    The five sick animals are being treated with drugs. 

The outbreak caused an initial public safety scare in Columbus when an Ohio newspaper reported that pregnant women who visited the enclosure could have been infected.    However the Ohio Department of Health has said there is no public health risk at the zoo. 

Kangaroo Walkabout opened in 1997 as a temporary exhibit but because of its popularity the display has reopened every year during the holiday season.    The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium promotes itself as one of the finest animal education and research facilities in the United States. It is home to 700 species and over 11,000 individual specimens. 

The zoo has no immediate plans to reopen Kangaroo Walkabout.  "After we know how many animals are going to make it, we'll talk about reopening the exhibit," Ms Peters told local reporters.

 Acknowledgements to www.ninemsn.com.au  5/7/2001

 
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