Acqua contaminata, malattie simili per delfini e uomo

di Marco Mancini 38

delfini malattie

Un gruppo di associazioni non governative e no profit, parlando alla riunione annuale della American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ha presentato una ricerca che suggerisce come le malattie che si riscontrano nei delfini sarebbero simili alle malattie umane e possono fornire indizi utili nel campo della salute umana. Primo tra tutti, come potrebbe essere danneggiato l’uomo dall’esposizione all’acqua contaminata, alle coste inquinate e ai frutti di mare tossici.

“I delfini e gli esseri umani sono entrambi mammiferi, e la loro dieta comprende gran parte del pesce che noi stessi consumiamo. A differenza di noi, tuttavia, sono esposti a minacce  come le alghe tossiche o scarsa qualità dell’acqua per 24 ore al giorno”, ha detto Carolyn Sotka, del NOAA, che ha coordinato lo studio. “Le affinità fisiologiche dei delfini con gli umani sono una sorta di sentinella importante: non solo ci avvertono dei rischi per la nostra di salute, ma ci forniscono anche una conoscenza di come la nostra salute può trarre vantaggio dalle nuove scoperte mediche”.

“La salute dell’ecosistema marino è connessa con la salute ed il benessero pubblico. Il NOAA si è impegnato a una migliore comprensione di questi collegamenti e per la costruzione di partnership necessarie per avere oceani sani, e dunque umanità in buona salute.”

Il NOAA è la principale agenzia che si occupa della protezione dei delfini e sostiene una rete di progetti nazionali e internazionali volti a indagare i problemi di salute delle specie marine e lo stato degli oceani. Alcune ricerche in questo ambito hanno evidenziato come lo studio delle patologie nei delfini potrebbe portare alla prevenzione futura e al trattamento di alcune malattie negli esseri umani e ad una migliore gestione della scienza per mitigare i focolai di numerose malattie sia nelle persone che negli animali.

inquinamento oceaniI livelli di contaminanti senza precedenti nei delfini che vivono nelle acque costiere sono segnali spia di potenziali rischi sanitari anche per gli umani. I ricercatori del NOAA e le istituzioni partner hanno recentemente scoperto che i delfini che vivono negli estuari lungo la costa della Georgia hanno i più alti livelli di policlorobifenili (PCB). Il termine PCB comprende una serie di contaminanti persistenti che sono stati vietati negli Stati Uniti dal 1970 a causa di documentati effetti negativi sulla salute. I livelli straordinariamente elevati di PCB misurati nel delfini, una concentrazione massima di 2.900 parti per milione, possono sopprimere la loro funzione immunitaria.
Elevati livelli di PCB sono stati riscontrati anche nei delfini presenti nei pressi di un’area marina protetta a circa 30 miglia da Brunswick. Questo suggerisce che gli agenti inquinanti si muovono lungo la costa attraverso la rete alimentare marina.

I ricercatori del NOAA hanno rilevato per la prima volta esponendo gli animali di laboratorio ad una tossina prodotta dalla fioriture di alghe marine microscopiche che essa può indurre convulsioni e alla fine portare a epilessia in quasi tutti gli animali testati. La scoperta di questo legame offre una nuova prospettiva a ricercatori e medici per studiare l’epilessia umana.
A causare l’epilessia negli animali presi in esame è l’esposizione all’acido domoico, una neurotossina prodotta dall’alga australis.
In almeno un caso si è attestato che negli esseri umani mangiare cozze contaminate con la tossina dell’acido domoico ha portato a epilessia.

Un team di ricercatori e veterinari dell’Università della Florida ha scoperto almeno 50 nuovi virus nei delfini, la maggioranza dei quali non sono ancora stati rilevati in nessun’altra specie di mammiferi marini. Hendrik H. Nollens, a capo della ricerca ha spiegato che

attraverso lo studio delle patologie virali nei delfini, abbiamo imparato di più su come i virus infettano gli umani e gli animali terrestri. Questa ricerca potrebbe portare a prevenire la futura comparsa di focolai di malattia.

Uno di questi virus, il virus del papilloma umano, è risultato essere comune anche ai delfini e rappresenta probabilmente il primo modello naturale del papilloma virus al di fuori della specie umana. Comunemente noto come HPV nell’uomo, il virus ha  prodotto grandi rischi per la salute umana tra cui i tumori della cervice uterina e del cancro nelle donne, soprattutto le donne con più tipi di papillomavirus. Questo nuovo studio mostra che, anche se i delfini ospitano diversi tipi di papilloma virus, non sviluppano il cancro, bensì solo condilomi genitali. Ulteriori ricerche sul genoma di questo virus nei delfini potrebbero aiutare a capire, gestire e prevenire il cancro cervicale negli esseri umani.

[Fonte: Sciencedaily]

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