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Thread: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

  1. #1
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    Default Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Hi Everyone,

    I just stumbled upon this weird study, which suggests a possible link between being around cats frequently and neurological changes in the brain, including increased prevalence of Schizophrenia and even Bipolar Disorder.

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol9no11/03-0143.htm

    This parasite, known as Toxoplasma Gondii, has an evolutionary usefulness for cats in that any rat or mouse the cat infects then no longer has an aversion to the smell of cats, and is instead drawn to them (I used to have cat allergies). If the cat then eats this mouse, then there is even more of this virus in the cat to reproduce itself. So it's official: cats are masters of "mind control".



    This study suggests that it has neurotoxic effects on the human brain, the severity of which depends largely on childhood exposure to cats, and predisposition to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. I was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder two days ago, but I still refuse to believe that the cat did it. They're just so fluffy and innocent! I'm just so drawn to them, for some unexplained reason...
    Last edited by Somnambulist; 3rd February 2011 at 11:52 AM.
    Ihr die uns eure Mass zu uns're Brafheit liebt,
    das Eine wisset ein für allemal.
    Wie Ihr es immer dreht und wie es immer schiebt,
    erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    My wife being pregnant, we're all about the toxo in our house and cat pooh duties fall entirely on my shoulders. They normally rest there, but for the last nine months there has been a reason for it.
    I am getting into podcasts and enjoyed this one from "Stuff You Should Know," featuring Toxoplasma. It's like being taught stuff by Bob and Doug McKenzie of "Great White North."
    WLB: excrementalist after Fartre.
    Last edited by Worldslaziestbusker; 3rd February 2011 at 11:58 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    I havn't been tested for it. I don't see much point... Having a furry friend alleviates my symptoms of depression. It would be interesting if this study accidentally explains why humans and cats are such natural friends, and why the Egyptians practically worshipped them.

    It's also funny to note that it may be biologically useful for cats to make humans like them (for obvious reasons), so the fact that they have a parasite which makes mammals drawn towards them could explain a lot.

    There's more to kittens than meets the eye .
    Ihr die uns eure Mass zu uns're Brafheit liebt,
    das Eine wisset ein für allemal.
    Wie Ihr es immer dreht und wie es immer schiebt,
    erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.

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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Infection of humans by Toxo gondii is extremely common (>>50%), and in many cases presents with no symptoms or as mild flu. Many of us have had enough exposure to have stimulated adequate immunity. It can cause encephalitis in immune-compromised people, including those who seem to have no apparent immune-compromise other than to T. gondii.

    Cat faeces are NOT the only source of infection for humans, and even then cats are only contagious for it when they are first infected and the parasite is multiplying in ther intestinal tract. Veges and other food can be contaminated by infective cat faeces, too.

    T gondii is so widespread almost all sheep and beef are affected as intermediate hosts, with cysts dormant in their muscle, and humans can become infected by either eating "rare" meat, or handling meat prior to cooking at then eating something from their hands. Toxoplasmosis is a significant cause of abortion in sheep and cattle, too.

    It would need to be shown that people with conditions such as these were significantly more commonly affected with toxoplasmosis than the general population, and also that such association was not just due to factors than made those people more susceptible to both those conditions and Toxoplasmosis.
    Belief means literally to love one's opinion more than the actual reality

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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Greater than 50 percent?!

    The Feline Empire sure is vast...

    I'm not advocating the study's results, I just find it amusing. Millions of things may be linked to mental illness, and it would make you crazy just trying to avoid them all.

    I just found an article that used the same words as me: "mind control".

    http://www.livescience.com/technolog...chnovelgy.html

    I'm a cat lover, so I personally won't avoid cats because of this information. It's just fascinating that cats can use parasites to alter brain chemistry of their prey, or their caregivers. Evolution works in mysterious ways.


    Edit: I'm going to write a radio play: Invasion of the Cat Zombies.
    Last edited by Somnambulist; 3rd February 2011 at 01:52 PM.
    Ihr die uns eure Mass zu uns're Brafheit liebt,
    das Eine wisset ein für allemal.
    Wie Ihr es immer dreht und wie es immer schiebt,
    erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    The actual "Stuff you should know" episode featuring Toxo.

    http://castroller.com/podcasts/Stuff...into%20zombies

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Hahahaha! This is great

    ...so If you have a cat that likes to poop in your garden and you're a big gardener, you're gonna want to murder your cat, get rid of your topsoil, and start over again.
    Thanks for the research busker. This is awesome.
    Last edited by Somnambulist; 3rd February 2011 at 02:09 PM.
    Ihr die uns eure Mass zu uns're Brafheit liebt,
    das Eine wisset ein für allemal.
    Wie Ihr es immer dreht und wie es immer schiebt,
    erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Quote Somnambulist said View Post
    Greater than 50 percent?!

    The Feline Empire sure is vast...
    [snip]
    It's just fascinating that cats can use parasites to alter brain chemistry of their prey, or their caregivers. Evolution works in mysterious ways.
    Probably greater than 50% in countries like NZ, Australia and the UK that like their lamb, beef and cats.

    Another infectious agent that alters brain function is rabies - the hydrophobia is to concentrate the virus that is secreted in saliva; it causes running fits in affected animals, so they spread it wider; and causes timid animals to become aggressive, and aggressive animals to appear timid, until they have a victim in sight - never trust a fox that comes up to your picnic in Europe, and appears to want to be hand fed !!!
    Belief means literally to love one's opinion more than the actual reality

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Quote Somnambulist said View Post
    Hahahaha! This is great



    Thanks for the research busker. This is awesome.
    Not my research, someone at "How Stuff Works" wrote the article, these guys talked about it, I heard and told you.
    Take them with a pinch of salt. While very entertaining, they acknowledge the post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy but still get excited about correlations that may not be causes.
    WLB

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can biologically Useful Feline Parasites cause Human Schizophrenic Symptoms?

    Ah, now THIS is my area!
    Yes, the Toxoplasma parasite can cause personality and behavioural changes in it's host. Rodents exhibit risk-taking behaviour including foraging in daylight, loss of aversion to cat smells etc. Correspondingly, the cat will nearly always eat the head of the mouse catch, sometimes the tail, even if nothing else. The toxo parasites are encysted in the brain and spinal cord, so they happily make their way from the intermediate (non sexual) host of the rodent to the cat, where the definitive (sexual) stage of the life cycle takes place. Smart little buggers hey!

    The cat excretes oocysts in their faeces. These are sticky, and resistant to drying out, and can remain infectious for up to 2 years in moist conditions. They take 3 days to sporulate and become infectious, so technically, cleaning out the litter tray every day is better than less frequently.
    There are other ways of becoming infected, through eating undercooked pork, lamb, kangaroo (marsupials are very susceptible to infection as they evolved in the absence of felines) Beef is much less likely as a source it is the host for
    Neospora which is subtly different to toxo. Eating vegetables grown in
    soil contaminated with oocysts is another source of infection.

    Estimates for rates of human infection vary from 15 to 85%, and this has a lot to do with cultural practices. In France, it is/was common to give raw meat juices to children.... so their rate is very high. Costa Rica is overrun with wild/semi domesticated cats, also a high rate of infection.

    In the healthy host, as RR states it usually causes no more than a mild, flu like illness. It is controlled by the host immune system and forced to encyst in the brain, spinal cord and skeletal muscle. The cysts rupture from time to time and are brought back into line by the immune system before they can run rampant. But, if you become infected for the first time while pregnant, the parasites can cross the placenta and cause catastrophic birth defects or stillbirth. If you have the parasites and then become immune-suppressed because of HIV infection or treatment for organ transplantation, when the cysts rupture, the tachyzoites multiply, often causing death from encephalitis. Toxo is an AIDS defining illness for that reason, and HIV positive toxo positive people take a prophylactic cocktail of nasty drugs to try and suppress the parasites.

    A friend of mine did some work on the effects of toxo infection in humans, this http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=e...&aqi=&aql=&oq= is a google search with a few references and news-style articles about it. Fun reading! Sex kittens, promiscuity, risk-taking behaviour and more.

    Interestingly, I remain toxo-negative, despite growing up with cats, eating homegrown veg with extra grit, playing in open sandpits, liking my meat rare, and working with live parasite cultures for over 10 years. I have three cats, and still use this charming little bug as an excuse for the litter tray to NOT be my job
    Last edited by Neospora; 3rd February 2011 at 04:18 PM.

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