June Buggie is Talking Parasites!
MEOW! My name is June Buggie and I have something to say.
I want to say for the record that cats are NOT causing people to commit suicide!
WHAT!!! you say?
So there’s this new research out there about the parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. It’s a parasite that loves cats. Actually, cat feces is one way humans can become infected with this parasite. In fact, it’s the reason why pregnant women are advised to NOT clean the litter box or handle cat feces. And you guys thought women were pulling your leg!
What are some of the findings about T. gondii?
- A study published this week found that women infected with T. gondii were 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than uninfected women.
- Women who are infected are more warm, out-going, image-conscious, and rule-abiding. Infected men, on the other hand, are more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. This is believed to be due to heightened anxiety. Women who are anxious tend to be more nurturing while men who are more anxious become more isolated.
- Infected people are more likely to become involved in traffic accidents.
- Rats infected with T. gondii are less fearful of cats. This is because the parasite must be ingested by a cat to procreate.
- There is a link betwen T. gondii and schizophrenia. Not all those with schizophrenia are infected with the parasite, but it’s believed that as many as 75% of schizophrenia patients are associated with infectious agents, including T. gondii.
- There’s also believed to be a link in T. gondii infection and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Now before you go freaking out, you need to know that indoor cats don’t typically carry the virus; outdoor cats can become infected by eating infected rodents. But even if infected, your cat sheds parasites only three weeks of his or her life.
It’s estimated that one out of every three people is infected with T. gondii. So if you are infected, you’re in good company. While cat feces is one mode of infection, you’re more likely to become infected by eating unwashed veggies, under-cooked meat, or by drinking contaminated water.
You can reduce your risk of contamination by thoroughly cooking meat, washing fruits and vegetables, and by keeping food surfaces clean. Also, be sure to wash your hands after handling raw meat or scooping the litterbox. Even better, wear gloves.
So know the facts and take care of yourself if you are infected. And if you’re not infected, stay that way.
Australia Herald Sun: Cat feces parasite linked to female suicide
Time Magazine: Crazy Cat Love: Caused By Parasitic Infection?
The Atlantic Magaine: How Your Cat is Making You Crazy