Friday, July 07, 2006

Cute Furry Little Parasite Containers

Imagine if you went to the doctor and he told you that you had a parasite living in your body. Imagine that this parasite could infect your brain and change your behavior. Suppose it could make you adore cats.

Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the chances are high (30 to 80% depending on where you live) that you do have the parasite toxoplasma gondii, and there is now evidence that it has evolved into a host behavior- changing little devil. Rats infected with it lose their fear of cats. This allows the parasite to more easily get back to its main host, cats.

And it may change the behavior of humans as well. Some evidence suggests that it may make women more “sex-kitten” like and men more “scruffy”. It may even be related to schizophrenia, and can cause madness in those with severely weakened immune systems, like those dying of AIDS. Pregnant women may have severely brain-damaged babies if they become infected for the first time while pregnant.

Isn’t this a strong argument for not having cats as pets? Cat feces may be loaded with the parasite eggs. Shouldn’t you at least get that cat box out of your kitchen? Or maybe your cat wants you to keep it there.

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