Parasite Preying on Pandas

Up to half of all panda deaths in the last five years have been the result of a disease that infects the brain and internal organs, and which spreads quickly thanks pandas' shrinking habitat, according to a new study.

The disease, caused by the roundworm Baylisascaris schroederi, is spread through infected droppings. Since pandas are now crowded into much smaller areas than they were even 20 or 30 years ago, they are more likely to contract the parasite from each other, and the rate of infection is climbing rapidly.

We're likely to see diseases like this affect quite a few other species over the next few years, as both habitats and genetic diversities shrink. Let's hope this one doesn't spell the end for the panda.