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Medicine Science

Cat Parasite May Increase Risk of Suicide In Humans 252

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-cat-owners-are-just-more-sensitive dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Maryland analyzing meticulous data collected by Danish authorities have identified a positive correlation between suicides among women with infection with the fairly common parasite T. gondii. Carriers were 53 percent more likely to commit suicide in a sample of 45,000 Danish women monitored for over a decade (researchers believe that the same correlation likely exists for men). Increased susceptibility to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder was also discovered. The physiological mechanism has not been determined, although some speculation centers around changes to dopamine levels. Two intriguing aspects were noted: 1) human infection often (but not always) begins by exposure to cats carrying the parasite, for example, by changing an infected animal's litter; and 2) the parasite spreads itself by infecting the nervous system of rodents, causing them to become suicidally attracted to feline odors which will increase the likelihood of their hosts being eaten by cats, whose digestive tracts provide the preferred environment for parasite reproduction."
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Cat Parasite May Increase Risk of Suicide In Humans

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