The Return of the Puppet Masters

In a post from a few years ago titled, Do you love cats?, I wrote this:

Toxoplasma gondii is a favorite parasite of evolutionary biologists because it has an incredible property.  The parasite lives in the guts of cats where it sheds eggs in cat feces that are often eaten by rats.  Now how to get back from the rat to the cat?  Amazingly, Toxoplasma gondii infects the brains of rats making them change their behavior in a subtle way that increases the genetic fitness of the parasite.  Toxoplasma makes the infected rats less scared of cats and so more likely to be eaten! 

Now here is the kicker.  Toxoplasma gondii also infects a lot of humans.

Now here is the latest research finding;

Toxoplasma gondii infects 20–60% of the population in most countries…We confirmed, using for the first time a prospective cohort study design, increased risk of traffic accidents in Toxoplasma-infected subjects…Our results show that …subjects with high titers of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies had a probability of a traffic accident of about 16.7%, i.e. a more than six times higher rate than Toxoplasma-free… subjects.

People with RhD blood factor have some protection – see the article for more.  No word yet on whether this increases the probability of being eaten by cats although I suppose it would have to.

Comments

I wonder what percentage of soldiers who volunteer for combat have this infection? Same with cops, firemen and others in dangerous professions? I also wonder if it would be desirable to intentionally infect such people in order to improve their performance by reducing their fear? Would such people self-infect if they thought if would make them better at their jobs?

Some time ago, I read a report that indicated that European residents were two to three times more likely than American residents to be carriers of this parasite. I wonder why that is so.

Cats eat vermin, very useful.

How does this correlate with our increasingly large cult of safety?

And perhaps the parasite contributes to the domestication of Cats if it similarly reduces fear in cats.

Some time ago, I read a report that indicated that European residents were two to three times more likely than American residents to be carriers of this parasite. I wonder why that is so.

More cats in European cities?

"The world is a much weirder place than I had imagined." Perhaps it's a much wierder place than we can imagine?

I was once hit by a cat lady who ran a red light trying to get her cat to the vet hospital.

The effects are far, far beyond just liking cats.
The infection
1) Significantly increases risk for schizophrenia
2) Makes women more slutty
3) Makes men behave in ways that women find less attractive
4) Is the number 1 killer of many types of marine mammals

Alex needs to post more.

Cult of Safety driven by fear of being held responsible.

Cats are phat.

Thank you for the warning!
Since I value traffic safety, I shall stop eating cat feces immediately.

The cat sleeps outside tonight.

how does one cure oneself of suspected toxoplasma gondiitis?

Comments for this post are closed