You Are What You’re Infected With?

Crazy CatVia the mermaid’s tale:

Rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii do crazy things. They find the scent of cat urine sexy and attractive, they don’t run from the actual beasts; they are more active in running wheels, which might indicate that the parasite induces increased activity which may more readily attract a cat’s attention. When an infected rat is eaten by a cat, the T. gondii is passed on in the cat’s feces to infect again. T. gondii can only reproduce inside the cat. Great survival strategy on the part of the parasite, this trick of making the rat no longer fear cats — now that’s really building a better mouse-trap! Did this strategy evolve by adaptive selection, or is it just something that happened?

Czech biologist, Jaroslav Flegr, thinks T. gondii infections do much the same to humans — his story is told in the March 2012 Atlantic Monthly. Toxoplasmosis, the infection caused by T. gondii, infects a significant segment of the world’s population — perhaps 20% of Americans, but 55% of French people are infected, probably because the French diet includes more rare or raw meat than the American diet. The usual mode of transmission is from a member of the cat family to another warm-blooded animal via ingestion of feces from an infected cat, but raw or rare meat can be another source. It can also be transmitted from mother to fetus, and can result in serious complications in an infected fetus, including stillbirth. This is why pregnant women are told to avoid litter boxes …

Read More: the mermaid’s tale

19 Comments on "You Are What You’re Infected With?"

  1. You should run this story for three days and have the cat in the picture get nastier and angrier looking and then suddenly inexplicably get really cute and cuddly looking….and see if anyone notices.

  2. riskyandfrisky | Feb 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    It is also thought that the French are also more infected because they eat raw goats cheese as well, and in places like Portugul because there are loads of cats and the soil stays warm most of the time,where in cold countries the low temperatures kills alot of the soils pathogens before transmision. 

  3. If wish I would get a parasite that induced me not to fear women.

  4. JoiquimCouteau | Feb 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm |

    Much better than “you are what you eat”, now instead of taking responsibility for my health I can ‘demand a cure’

  5. this reminds me of that bacteria that turned plant eating fish into cannibals. And that other bacteria formed from pig feces that makes people volatile. Isn’t there also a bacteria that infects ants and controls them. Makes them climb to an area where cows graze to be eaten. Sounds like a scary alien sci fi if it did that to humans but its all true!

  6. Simiantongue | Feb 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    Mind influencing parasites. Further evidence that life is actually one big science fiction film. Or was that tragic comedy. Anyhoo. 

  7. Doormans Placebo | Feb 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    This study is old and wrong. Ive had this all my life since birth and im not introverted at all and I follow many bullshit rules that I should disregard. I does not even make me like cats more than the average cat lover would. If anything I would imply that if toxoplamosis stimulates visual mental activity, its probably responsible for innovations and art. But I think the parasite is trapped in the body, following the same logic that it can only reproduce inside cats. The matter of still birth is very serious tho and my mother had a lot of complications giving birth to me but that just makes me special. If anything I am too aware of what people think of me and could use a bit of introversion and being oblivious to haters would also be a plus. Telling impressionable people that they are schitzo; in my opinon causes more damage than the parasite itself. If your immune system is weakend then i think toxo can create dillusions because the parasite leaves its cyst form and becomes active again and any foregin germ performing normal biological function would change the brains chemistry causing errors in the chemical reactions necessary for optimal operation. If i were paranoid I would not be so relaxed about this. Love you cats but stay away from them if you knock up the old lady by mistake.

  8. Matthewpond | Apr 29, 2012 at 7:06 am |

    this symbiosis type thing is not so rare. consider that humans could not digest pulses or grains without the bacteria that live in our guts. imagine what agriculture and therefore civilisation would have been if we had not had that food source available. its also the reason you don’t get vegetarian zombies.

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