Can Your Cat Make You Psychotic?
Scientists have found a microscopic parasite that appears to alter the normal predator-prey reaction in animal species. When present in chimpanzees, for instance, they seem to lose their fear of leopards, a natural predator. And, when the parasite is present in mice, they lose their fear of cats, which as we know is their main enemy. According to scientists, this parasite is infecting almost 1,000 British citizens every day.
What is Toxoplasma gondii?
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a tiny parasite visible only by microscope. It breeds in cats. It can be found in other animal species, however, in these cases, T. gondii comes to a dead end in its life cycle. The parasite can transfer to a cat if the infected species is consumed by the feline.
Scientists say that T. gondii has become so prevalent that hundreds of thousands of people may be infected either through contact with their pet cats or from consuming contaminated food. In most cases, there are no signs of infection. The most serious risk is to pregnant women.
Yet, there are serious questions as to whether T. gondii can result in the same psychological changes as seen in animals. For instance, can the presence of T. gondii cause humans to take greater risks or become ?
Can Toxoplasma Gondii Cause Humans to Become Psychotic?
Scientists believe that T. gondii can travel through the bloodstream and cause cysts to form in the amygdala. This is the section of the brain that controls fear emotions. Previous studies have indicated that the presence of Toxoplasma gondii in the brain can alter a person’s reaction time to dangerous situations. This sounds similar to what has been observed with other species who lose their fear of natural predators. Of more serious concern is the possibility that a T. gondii infection in the human could seriously alter their personality, to the point of suicide or serious psychoses.