I am pretty sure most people would agree that dolphins are pretty smart. But did you know that they may develop similar neurological conditions as humans?
I read an interesting article published in Drug Target Review exploring how dolphins that have washed up on beaches may help us understand neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as responses to viral infections.
For example, Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) is a virus similar to measles that has been implicated in killing a large number of dolphins during outbreaks. Researchers are exploring whether the virus, isolated from the brain of dolphins that died from the disease, is similar to that found in patients infected with measles who developed a form of encephalitis.
In 2019 researchers have also discovered that dolphins can have similar amyloid plaques and tau deposits in the brain as people with Alzheimer’s disease. This was the first time researchers have identified the two characteristics together in the brain of a wild animal. As the researchers also identified a neurotoxin from blue-green algae in the animals, it is thought that the infection led to the development of the plaques. It is not clear whether the Alzheimer’s-like pathology disoriented the animals and result in their beaching.