Bacteria, toxoplasma infections blamed for giant panda's death

March 14, 2014 at 1:02 PM
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ZHENGZHOU, China, March 14 (UPI) -- Officials at China's Zhengzhou Zoo said the death of a female giant panda was found to be tied to bacteria and toxoplasma infection.

The zoo said tissue and fluid samples from Jinyi, the 7-year-old panda who died Feb. 9, were sent to the Veterinary Institute of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Changchun, where researchers determined the panda was infected with bacteria and toxoplasma, which is comprised of parasites in the blood and body tissue, China Daily reported Friday.

The panda died of heart and lung failure stemming from her infections, officials said.

"This is also the first time we found toxoplasma in a giant panda, so we know very little about the infection and its pathology as it relates to this animal," said Wang Chengdong, head of the animal management department at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, where Jinyi lived when she was young.

Officials said giant pandas usually live to up to 25 years, so Jenyi's death at the age of 7 was considered unusual and resulted in an investigation.

"Usually, toxoplasma will not cause death, according to my knowledge, but there are differences among different animal species. In the fox, for example, it may cause serious disease and death," Wang said.

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