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Cats may make you schizophrenic?

Posted by Richard on January 30, 2019

Eek!

In what researchers describe as the largest study of its kind, scientists have found new evidence of a link between infection with the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and schizophrenia.

Causation remains very much disputable, but the brain-dwelling parasite – commonly carried by cats and present in their faeces – has been linked to a huge host of behaviour-altering effects.

Virtually all warm-blooded animals are capable of being infected, and when T. gondii gets inside them, unusual things happen.

What kind of unusual things? Well, infected rodents lose their inhibitions and their aversion to the odor of cats.

Mmm, cat odors.

In humans, T. gondii infections seem to be associated with risk-taking, suicide, and various neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. Of course, correlation is not causation. Maybe people who are prone to these effects for other reasons are also for some reason more inclined to have cats.

Still, there’s this new study by Danish researchers analyzing the blood of 80,000 Danes that suggests further research might be a good idea:

To ascertain links between mental disorders and infections with T. gondii and another common pathogen, the herpes virus cytomegalovirus (CMV), the researchers identified 2,591 individuals in the blood study who were registered with psychiatric conditions, and analysed their samples to look for traces of immunoglobulin antibodies indicative of the two infections.

In terms of T. gondii, compared to a control group, the blood work revealed individuals with the infection were almost 50 percent more likely (odds ratio 1.47) to be diagnosed with schizophrenia disorders compared to those without an infection.

As the researchers explain, the link became even more evident when they filtered the data to account for ‘temporality’ – which meant only looking at participants who hadn’t yet been diagnosed with schizophrenia when T. gondii was found in their blood.

According to the researchers, this “corroborates that Toxoplasma has a positive effect on the rate of schizophrenia and that T. gondii infection might be a contributing causal factor for schizophrenia.”

I know the voices aren’t real, but they have some really good ideas.

(HT: /.)

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