Parasite spread by CATS might lead to schizophrenia in humans.


Your chances of developing schizophrenia may be increased by 50 per cent because of a parasite carried by cats, according to new research. Scientists from Copenhagen University analysed data from 80,000 people and discovered that 2,591 of them had psychiatric conditions. The parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, is usually harmless and is found in cat litter trays and can be spread to people through uncooked meat. However, the study noted links between it and behavioural changes. The parasite has already been linked to risk-taking and depression. The parasite might be present in billions of people worldwide and was found in a quarter of the people studied by Dr Kristoffer SĂžlvsten Burgdorf and his team. The study notes that it could be a contributing factor in the development of schizophrenia. The problem might stem from the parasite disrupting an amino acid called Tryptophan. That, in turn, leads to the secretion of kynurenic acid which is found in higher levels in people with schizophrenia. However, the study didn't take into account any other factors like social or financial problems which may also play a part.
Scientists are working on a vaccine against T. gondii in an effort to control toxoplasmosis. For most healthy people the parasite presents no serious problems. It can affect the unborn children of mothers with the parasite and it can result in flu-like symptoms in even healthy adults it's also more serious in people with suppressed immune systems, such as those with AIDs or people taking some forms of chemotherapy. The US Centres for Disease Control says that the parasite only becomes infectious between one and five days after a cat has exceeded it in its faeces. Changing cat litter every day is suggested and using gloves is also recommended. The study was published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.