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Catching a coral killer -- Science Nation


Catching a coral killer

We often hear about insects and other animals passing on diseases to humans, so-called zoonotic diseases, such as rabies, cholera, West Nile virus, etc. Now, for the first time, researchers are examining a disease that humans are spreading to an animal, specifically Elkhorn coral off the Florida Keys. With support from NSF, Rollins College biologist Kathryn Sutherland is tracing this emerging infectious disease phenomenon, known as "reverse zoonosis." Elkhorn coral was once the most common coral in the Caribbean, but it's now a threatened species due to population losses from White pox disease. Sutherland believes undertreated sewage, possibly from leaking septic tanks or illegal cruise ship discharge, could be the source of the disease.

Credit: National Science Foundation

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