One in three of you is your cat’s puppet – Toxoplasma gondii and me
KATHLEEN McAuliffe says your cat is making you insane. Jaroslav Flegr is the guinea pig (unwilling) infected in by brian by Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled parasite that lives in your cats poo. The Toxo-G causes toxoplasmosis. If pregnant women become infected, the bug can cause the foetus to be brain damaged or aborted.
Cats and human are at a crossroads. For a long time, humans petted the cats and the cats caught the mice. Humans fed the cats and the cats agreed not to piss on the carpet. Cats get petted and de-loused and humans get de-stressed. But it’s all about to change. Your cat is working you like a puppet. Oh, and, as ever, global warming is making things worse for humanity.
In 2002, research suggested that between 30 to 60% of people across the world re infected with Toxoplasmosis gondii.
Flegr and a team at the Department of Parasitology at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic tested 146 men and women visiting an outpatient clinic after an accident. Those with latent toxoplasmosis were found to have a “significantly increased risk” of road accidents. In the journals of BMC Infectious Diseases, the researchers wrote: “These results suggest that ‘asymptomatic’ acquired toxoplasmosis might in fact represent a serious and highly underestimated public health.”
Otters have already been killed.
Flegr says to The Atlantic:
“Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year…There is strong psychological resistance to the possibility that human behavior can be influenced by some stupid parasite. Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. Reviewers [of my scientific papers] may have been offended [sic].”
The cat is out to get you:
Humans…are exposed not only by coming into contact with litter boxes, but also, he found, by drinking water contaminated with cat feces, eating unwashed vegetables, or, especially in Europe, by consuming raw or undercooked meat. Hence the French, according to Flegr, with their love of steak prepared saignant—literally, “bleeding”—can have infection rates as high as 55 percent.
Researchers had already observed a few peculiarities about rodents with T. gondii that bolstered Flegr’s theory. The infected rodents were much more active in running wheels than uninfected rodents were, suggesting that they would be more-attractive targets for cats, which are drawn to fast-moving objects. They also were less wary of predators in exposed spaces.
What are the signs?
Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. Infected women, on the other hand, presented in exactly the opposite way: they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women…
Compared with uninfected people of the same sex, infected men were more likely to wear rumpled old clothes; infected women tended to be more meticulously attired, many showing up for the study in expensive, designer-brand clothing. Infected men tended to have fewer friends, while infected women tended to have more.
If it’s not you, its one of your two beat friends:
With up to one-third of the world infected with the parasite, Flegr now calculates that T. gondii is a likely factor in several hundred thousand road deaths each year. In addition, reanalysis of his personality-questionnaire data revealed that, just like him, many other people who have the latent infection feel intrepid in dangerous situations. “Maybe,” he says, “that’s another reason they get into traffic accidents. They don’t have a normal fear response.”