A mysterious toxin may offer clues to such human neurodegenerative diseases as ALS, Parkinson's, and dementia
by LINDSEY KONKEL on OCT 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM
J. STROM THURMOND LAKE, Georgia—From their perch in a loblolly pine, two bald eagles swoop low over a floating flock of wintering coots. Most of the water birds scatter, but a few are left struggling on the surface.
They flail on their backs, their wings twitching. They sense danger, but they cannot flee. Choosing its prey, an eagle dives over one of the sick coots, skewering it with sharp talons.
A mysterious toxin—with no name and no cure—lurking in lakes in the South has drilled holes in the brains of these water birds, rendering them unable to swim, eat, and fly. In turn, this poison likely will also destroy the brain of the eagle that ate the coot.