The crazy cat lady parasite identified

Yeah, yeah, I know it is gender stereotyping, just the same as the old guys with model trains and the yummy mummies with their lattes. But you know what? I don’t care! However, scientists have found that there is a link and it seems that there is a real reason for cat lovers to go crazy. Quote.

A common parasite spread by cats that is carried by two billion people may lead to schizophrenia, researchers fear.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), which can spread to people through contact with cat litter trays and eating uncooked meat, is usually harmless.

But now, the largest study of its kind, has found having the parasite could raise the risk of developing schizophrenia by 50 per cent.

Unusual links between T. gondii and mind-altering behaviour, such as risk-taking, depression and car accidents, already exist. End quote.

“Usually harmless” but can raise the risk of schizophrenia, risk-taking, depression and car accidents. But “usually harmless” – good to know. Quote.

Scientists at Copenhagen University analysed data from more than 80,000 individuals in the Danish Blood Donor Study, of which 2,591 people had registered psychiatric conditions.

The researchers, led by Dr Kristoffer S?lvsten Burgdorf, scoured traces of immunoglobulin antibodies for the presence of T. gondii.

Billions of people worldwide – nearly one third of the population, according to the University of Chicago – are believed to have been infected by the parasite, including 60million in the US and 350,000 a year in the UK.

The parasite was detected in the blood of a quarter of the population studied by the team in Copenhagen.

Patients infected with T. gondii were almost 50 per cent more likely to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia than those without, results showed.

The association was even stronger when accounting for ‘temporality’ – patients who had not already been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

According to the researchers, this ‘corroborates that Toxoplasma has a positive effect on the rate of schizophrenia’.

Dr Burgdorf and colleagues added that ‘T. gondii infection might be a contributing causal factor for schizophrenia’.

T. gondii was not associated with any other psychiatric disorder, according to the study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

However, CMV was, including risk of neurotic and stress-related disorder, somatoform disorder, a form of mental illness that manifests as physical pain, and attempting or committing suicide.

Explaining the link, the authors wrote that the parasite may disrupt the action of an amino acid in the body called tryptophan.

This leads to the secretion of large amounts of metabolites such as kynurenic acid, previously found to be high in people with schizophrenia.

‘Tryptophan is also the essential precursor of serotonin, which is involved in depressive disorders,’ the authors wrote.

The researchers said their study did not control for socio-economic factors which can influence the probability of having a psychiatric disorder.

But their ‘statistically significant’ findings add to a growing body of evidence that the parasite has strange cognitive effects.

In humans, T. gondii can lead to toxoplasmosis, which causes flu-like symptoms which can go largely unrecognised, according to the NHS.

Pregnant women who ingest the parasite in early pregnancy can suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth, according to studies. End quote.

Daily Mail

Don’t question it – the science is settled. Gareth Morgan was right all along.

Gareth Morgan & cat