Yet another study on how a common parasite carried by cats can cause you a cohort of health problems was published.
Scandinavian researchers found that the parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (t. gondii) can not only infect pet owners but it may also boost their chances of developing schizophrenia and other nasty mental disorders later in life.
According to the new study, t.gondii infection, or toxoplasmosis, may be responsible for later development of schizophrenia, addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder in people that host the parasite.
Researchers based their assumptions on the data found in 50 studies on the matter. They failed however to find a link between the parasite and heightened risk of having depression.
Nevertheless, studies on t. gondii’s overall impact on human health have been published for ages. Nearly every year a new study reminds us of the health risks the elusive parasite which befriends our cats may pose.
But the new study is the first to find such a strong link between the parasite and an elevated risk of developing a mental illness. The findings were recently published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
Though Toxoplasma gondii can virtually infect any warm-blooded mammal, cats provide the optimal environment for it to sexually reproduce. This may explain the cat affinity from its side.
When the parasite reproduces in the feline host it releases latent zygotes called oocysts which are later eliminated by the cat through feces.
Between one to two days from reproduction, the zygotes become infectious. So, the pet owner can accidentally ingest them while cleaning the litter or by touching contaminated surfaces especially if they fail to properly wash their hands.
Within the human body, the parasites asexually replicate and release bradyzoites that can penetrate the walls of the intestine and further spread into the blood stream and from that point on to the brain and muscles.
Yet, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that you are more likely to get the parasite from gardening or eating uncooked meat than from your pet. Previous studies had shown that the parasite can be transmitted via organ transplants or blood transfusions as well.
Statistics show that toxoplasma gondii infection is wide spread worldwide with 30 to 50 percent of world’s population carrying the parasite. The CDC said that more than 60 million Americans (adults and children) host the parasite, but very few of them actually show symptoms. Doctors argue that a healthy immune system can keep the parasite under control.
Image Source: Mashable
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