Researchers Examine Unknown Parasite, Threat To Eastern Oysters

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown parasite while looking into the mass death of Asian oysters in local waters.

The parasite doesn't have a name and doesn't pose a health risk to humans. It's thought to be an interloper with its closest genetic relative a Bonamia parasite found in the Southern Hemisphere.

Researchers discovered the parasite after Asian oysters were found dead in Bogue Sound and more recently in Hewletts Creek in New Hanover County.

Researchers are especially worried about the possibility of finding the parasite in native Eastern oysters, a key component of the state's oyster fishery and a proposed hatchery program.

Troy Alphin with the University of North Carolina Wilmington says they're trying to answer many unknowns about the parasite.