Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Parasite infection from cat shit linked to schizophrenia

By maynard in News
Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 02:14:40 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Science Daily reports that researchers at Imperial College London have published a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B which links Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoa which as part of its life cycle is excreted within cat feces, to schizophrenia. The findings show that when rats are fed Haloperidol, an anti-psychotic, and Valproic acid, a mood stabilizer and anti-convulsant, replication of T. gondii within a host organism appears to be inhibited.


Toxoplasma gondii infects a wide range of animals including humans. Sexual reproduction takes place within the small intestine of the common house cat (Felis silvestris catus), which is then excreted by the animal. Oral contact with infected cat feces, soil, unwashed vegetables, or uncooked meat is then the usual vector of animal infection. From here the parasite begins an asexual life cycle whereby it infects cells of the host organism and divides within each until bursting the cell, thus releasing more of T. gondii within the animal to infect yet more cells. Within humans, infection is usually asymptomatic, or presents as a mild cold or flu, and has long been considered mostly benign. Occasionally those with compromised immune systems are unable to ward off the parasite, in which case the infection can progress to a more dangerous illness known as Toxoplasmosis. If untreated, toxoplasmosis can lead to encephalitis and, very rarely, even death. Estimates of human exposure to T. gondii infection range between 50% and 60% of the world population, making it highly prevalent.

Early speculation that T. gondii infection may increase the risk for schizophrenia goes back to the 1970s, when -- according to this 2001 New York Times Magazine article Pet Theory: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia -- Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey first postulated the hypothesis. At the time he was a lone voice, but as research across the 1980s and early 1990s into a range of viruses and other infectious vectors began to offer tidbits of evidence in support, many in the field were swayed to the position that schizophrenia, and possibly other mental disorders, is likely caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental insults, rather than psychological factors such as childhood emotional trama. Since publication of the Human Genome Project dataset, researchers have had the tools necessary to discern at least some genetic components related to schizophrenia, which provided a critical tool for serious exploration of the hypothesis.

Interest in T. gondii heated up in 2000 when the biomedical community saw the published findings (pubmed) that otherwise seemingly normal rats infected with T. gondii were more likely to be predated upon by cats than those uninfected. The findings suggested the tantalizing possibility that a parasite could somehow change the behavior of a host organism in subtle ways to suit its own reproduction cycle. Which opened the question, could some pathogens alter behavior in other mammals, such as humans, as well? And so the notion that T. gondii might somehow change the brain to alter behavior in a complex organism turned from speculation to science. Next, researchers begin exploring the links between T. gondii infection and potential cognitive performance deficits in humans. In 2003, one research group published results showing that latent T. gondii cyst infection appeared to decrease novelty seeking behaviors and reduce psycho-motor intelligence in men (women were not part of the study) compared to a non-infected control. The researchers speculated that increased dopamine concentrations in the brains of the infected may be the cause. Then, a 2005 study appeared which linked maternal T. gondii infection during pregnancy to increased risk of schizophrenia later in the life of their offspring.

These most recent findings add further evidence to link between T. gondii and schizophrenia-like symptoms in humans. Though lead researcher Dr. Joanne Webster, of Imperial College London, doesn't assert infection with direct causation of schizophrenia in the article:

"Although we are certainly not saying that exposure to this parasite does definitely lead to the development of schizophrenia, this and previous studies do show there may be a link in a few individuals, providing new clues for how we treat toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia."
Dr. Webster next plans a set of human clinical trials using anti-T.gondii therapies in schizophrenic patients, in addition to traditional anti-psychotic medication. The outcome of these trials may offer new treatments for those suffering from this highly debilitating brain disorder.

Given the popularity of cats as pets, and the high prevalence of prior T. gondii infection throughout the human populace, such further research is obviously warranted. These findings represent just one path toward discovering other potential infectious vectors for mental illness in the future. Hopefully, with further research, science may discern the underlying brain mechanisms behind all the mental illnesses, and through that create new drugs with significantly better outcomes than current therapies offer.


cross posted at: daduh.org
Thanks to: circletimessquare, Hung Fu, nostalgiphile, trenchcoatjedi, MMcP, and BottleRocket for their editorial help.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o reports
o Imperial College London
o Toxoplasma gondii
o protozoa
o schizophre nia
o Haloperido l
o Toxoplasmo sis
o Pet Theory: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia
o genetic components
o published findings
o pubmed
o one research group published
o increased risk of schizophrenia
o daduh.org
o Also by maynard


Display: Sort:
Parasite infection from cat shit linked to schizophrenia | 145 comments (82 topical, 63 editorial, 1 hidden)
Wasn't this announced ... (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by Ignore Amos on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:49:17 PM EST

... like a year ago?

And that explains why airplanes carry cargo on small boats floating in their cargo aquarium. - jmzero

article dated the Jan 25th, 06 (3.00 / 3) (#2)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:52:48 PM EST

It's possible the research group announced preliminary findings some time ago, but it looks like they've just published and are now moving forward with clinical trials based on the research. Seems like news to me - though one could argue that my write-up doesn't do the material justice.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
I don't think so (none / 1) (#4)
by Hung Fu on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:15:23 PM EST

There has just been tons of research into the link between toxoplasmosis and behaviour recently. The most interesting finding has been that otherwise normal people with toxoplasmosis have altered personalities and lowered IQ. Definitely puts one off owning a cat and eating red meat.

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]
this is ANCIENT news (nt) (none / 1) (#6)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:15:32 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Imperial College press release dated Jan 18th 06$ (none / 0) (#10)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:43:44 PM EST



Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
ancient news as in before i was born, proof: (none / 1) (#11)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:50:46 PM EST

http://cogweb.ucla.edu/ep/Schizovirus.html

Torrey first postulated that toxoplasmosis might cause schizophrenia in the 1970s, when he read several articles attributing an outbreak of multiple sclerosis in the Faeroe Islands to the introduction of dogs there during World War II. Could indoor pets like cats, which had become widely popular only in the nineteenth century, also be reservoirs of infectious agents? Torrey, who had recently completed a book manuscript arguing that in the late nineteenth century schizophrenia and bipolar disorder went from being rare diseases to relatively common ones, became convinced that cats were central to that story. "The cat craze began with the cat shows in the late nineteenth century," he explains. "And when I went back and looked at what we know about cats as pets, it corresponded almost perfectly to what we know about the rise of psychosis."


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Sure (none / 0) (#12)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:54:10 PM EST

These published findings appear to confirm that speculation.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
there's been lots of studies (none / 1) (#13)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:57:42 PM EST

partially confirming the theory, just like this is just another in a long stream of studies, partially confirming the theory

it's interesting, but hardly groundbreaking, just another sliver of scientific investigation that has not yet added up to a definitive whole


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

OK (none / 1) (#14)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:59:49 PM EST

Are you making an editorial suggestion here?

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#15)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 05:04:23 PM EST

say as much: it's just another interesting tidbit, not yet adding up to a whole

and then include the other interesting scientific study tidbits on this theory (i think there was one in april 2005 too) and then you have a blockbuster story: it would be topical, because there is fresh news, but it would not just a press release off the ap wire, like it is now

k5 should have a little more depth of analysis, not just newsflash! two paragraphs! blah!

k5 is not an rss feed

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Fair enough (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 05:14:34 PM EST

I did section it MLP, but I'll poke around and see if I can find other relevant material and expand it a bit. Though I may resection depending on how much material I add.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
perfect! thank you, i will +1 fp then (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 05:25:08 PM EST

you will have made k5 a quality place

AND you are increasing the chance of it getting voted up, because people react to quality

you will have morphed "news flash! two paragraphs! blah! who cares!" into a deeper intriguing resource for an interesting theory that will be engrossing to any casual reader

cheerio and all that


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

OK (none / 0) (#24)
by maynard on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:10:07 PM EST

done with the 1st rough draft.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
"but hardly groundbreaking" (none / 0) (#132)
by khallow on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:28:09 PM EST

So what was your point? This isn't ancient news even if it isn't "ground-breaking". Neither do we have a surfeit of stories on this subject.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Something something Crazy Cat Lady [nt] (1.50 / 2) (#22)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:09:48 PM EST



It tastes sweet.
The most interesting part about toxoplasma gondii (3.00 / 5) (#40)
by freddie on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:59:25 PM EST

Is that it turns women into sex kittens and men into "alley cats"

Read more about it, fair and balanced.


Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein
Reposting as a topical comment as per maynard (3.00 / 4) (#51)
by trenchcoatjedi on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 03:06:55 PM EST

T. gondii is primarily an intracellular parasite that does some wacky things to ion balance inside the cell. I can see how these effects could possibly lead to symptoms. Antipsyhcotic pharmacology does throw a few wrenches into this theory. T. gondii does have a prediliction for neurons of the basal ganglia where schizophrenic drugs often work. It's an interesting phenomenon but I'm not convinced yet. This article is good as a secondary source and lit review though. Glad to be of help.
-J
I have always owned cats (2.75 / 4) (#61)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 04:25:27 PM EST

and I have schizoaffective disorder, which is just like being manic depressive and schizophrenic at the same time.

I was given a cat as an infant, and have never gone long without owning one.

My first hospitalization was when I was twenty, and my diagnosis came when I was twenty-one. Schizophrenia and manic depression almost always strike first when one is a young adult. However, I had depression throughout my youth, although that's more likely the result of neurosis.

I wouldn't take my anecdotal evidence as confirming anything; not every schizophrenic had a cat as a child.

One thing to note, it was pointed out below that there is no explanation for the age of onset of the disease. Another environmental factor that seems likely is that a schizophrenic's mother had the flu while she was pregnant with him. There is also a correlation between Winter births and schizophrenia. I don't know if my mom got the flu, but I was born in February.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Like many subtle chemical upsets (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:35:54 PM EST

it probably has multiple factors - a series of small environmental and genetic factors that combine to cause the total effect.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Lovely.... (none / 0) (#113)
by bighappyface on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:55:36 AM EST

...my grandfather was schizophrenic, my mom was sick when I was born, I was on an incubator for a few days, and I was born in Feburary.

I have also consumed large amounts of drugs, and suffer from anxiety/depression.

Anyone want to take bets on me becoming schizophrenic?

I sometimes harbor psychotic thoughts/psychoses, but I tend to recognize them as such or regard these thoughts as something 50/50 as in "it could be possible the world is fucked up and lots of things are inexplicable, but then again, maybe it's a delusion"... so...

Yeah.

[ Parent ]

I also like cats... (none / 0) (#114)
by bighappyface on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:56:13 AM EST

...and pet them for as long as possible every chance I get.

Luckily, my parents never let me get a cat as a child, and now I'm starting to like dogs better.

[ Parent ]

Maybe a psych test is indicated (none / 1) (#116)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 11:44:36 AM EST

Something like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory could indicate whether psychiatric treatment is indicated.

If you have psychotic symptoms, even minor ones, you're far better off taking medication for it right now, as resulting behaviours can harm your life in subtle, harmful ways. For example, modest paranoia could cause you to shun other people, thus losing out on friends you might otherwise have made.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

I actually do have modest paranoia... (none / 0) (#121)
by bighappyface on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:32:41 PM EST

...about a lot of my acquaintences not liking me a whole lot.

Then again, I think I see signs, and just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they really DONT want to be my friend. :)

[ Parent ]

Also, doesn't the MMPI cost money... (none / 0) (#122)
by bighappyface on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:34:06 PM EST

...or is it free with any visit to a psychiatrist if you ask to take it?

I'm assuming there's nowhere to do it online for free, and I know last time I had it administered (13 years old), the psych just supervised me/made sure the room was quiet, and then sent it off to like a different state and we had to wait for a doctor/team to analyze it.

[ Parent ]

Yes, it has to be administered by a shrink (none / 1) (#127)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:38:43 AM EST

... and while it's illegal to withhold your results from you, the MMPI's license agreement says the shrink is not permitted to give you the detailed results.

I don't think it's very expensive to administer. I've had it twice, and never been charged extra for it.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Weighing the benefits of cats (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 04:41:37 PM EST

I can see how, if this is confirmed, there might come calls to eradicate cats. But would that be a good thing?

Cats were domesticated by the Egyptians because they preyed on the rats and mice that aid their grain stocks. If cats were eliminated, I have no doubt many communities would be overrun with vermin, and the cost to society would be far greater than any possible contribution of cats to schizophrenia.

The black plague was thought at the time to be caused by cats, so the cats were all rounded up and put to death. Ironically, the plague was really carried by the fleas on rats.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


house cats are probably safe (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by maynard on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 04:55:28 PM EST

There are already T. gondii treatments available. I doubt anyone will call to eradicate the house cat, but city dwelling ferel cats may suffer as a result. I think the most likely outcome from all this will be the discovery of a range of infections which , in certain circumstances, damage the CNS. In the long term, treatments will probably be specific to each person's genome and whatever infection may be present. T. gondii is just one small part of a much greater puzzle.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
Rats vs. Cats? (none / 0) (#86)
by rob on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:03:07 AM EST

Cats do a good job killing small birds, mice, and chipmunks, but I don't see cats in any way useful controlling city rats.

Put a cat in a rat infested basement and my $$ is on the rats.

[ Parent ]
All depends upon the cat (none / 1) (#88)
by Have A Nice Day on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:19:38 AM EST

One of my mum's regularly brings home dead rats, others don't. Jake is a big white male of farm-cat stock though.

--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
predators don't control population size of prey (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by elaineradford on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:04:51 PM EST

Crawford's suggestion is quite outdated, although it remains a popular meme.

In recent years, I've heard biologists suggest the opposite -- that the size of the population of the prey animals controls the size of the population of the predator species, by controlling the size of the territory they have to roam to get sufficient food.

Some cats were burned as witches during the plague years, certainly not all of them or we'd have no cats today, but I've not seen any convincing evidence that burning cats or witches had any effect on the plague one way or another. The claim that we would have had no plague or limited plague if cats had not been burned seems to be a superstition of recent years, repeated only by cat owners, to the bemused skepticism of the rest of us. I don't think there is a shred of proof that cats left to roam free would have reduced any population of rats sufficiently to have prevented or halted the spread of the plague.

Frankly, my observations agree with yours -- real world, real time, cats don't kill rats, they kill fledgling birds, mice, and other small wildlife, some desirable or endangered. In the cage fight between cat and genuine urban Norway rat, I'd certainly put my gambling money on the rat.



[ Parent ]

Put that Norway rat (none / 0) (#128)
by artis on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:43:37 PM EST

Against a Norwegian Forest Cat.
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
Easy (none / 0) (#96)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:29:40 PM EST

Genetically modify the virus so that it:

A) No longer adversely affects humans (ie - take out all of the bad stuff, but leave the basic reproductive structure - we'll give it a home, but not our brains)

B) Kills off its non-modified brethren, either by stealing essential resources, or by outright poisoning.

Release into the wild - maybe by injecting strays.

Wait 20 years - voila! - no more bad-version virus.

[ Parent ]

it's country cats that are the problem (none / 0) (#97)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:31:17 PM EST

any cat isolated indoors should be fine, and not a carrier

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 1) (#102)
by awgsilyari on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:43:29 PM EST

The black plague was thought at the time to be caused by cats, so the cats were all rounded up and put to death. Ironically, the plague was really carried by the fleas on rats.

This is actually in dispute now. Excerpt from Wiki:

However, recent scientific and historical investigations have led researchers to doubt the long-held belief that the Black Death was an epidemic of bubonic plague. For example, in 2000, Gunnar Karlsson (Iceland's 1100 Years: The History of a Marginal Society) pointed out that the Black Death killed between half and two-thirds of the population of Iceland, although there were no rats in Iceland at this time. Rats were accidentally introduced in the 19th century, and have never spread beyond a small number of urban areas attached to seaports. In the 14th century there were no urban settlements in Iceland. Iceland was unaffected by the later plagues which are known to have been spread by rats.

More information available on the Wiki page, as well as other sources.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Intriguing (none / 0) (#124)
by some nerd on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:56:51 PM EST

Rats being the plague flea carriers is presented as definitive fact in every textbook I've ever seen. I remember a question in our school ones trying to get you to spot the apparent irony in the cat culling. I suppose it could well still be true in rat-infested areas though.

--
Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
Eating undercooked red meat is just as risky (none / 1) (#105)
by Hung Fu on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 08:46:56 PM EST

as owning a cat, at least from the studies I've seen.

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]
Well that sucks (none / 0) (#117)
by maynard on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 11:52:22 AM EST

I like my steak red and bloody.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
Cats are evil. (1.72 / 11) (#66)
by V on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 05:02:49 PM EST

Just touching a cat or a fabric where a cat has been can send me to bed for several days with alergies. I can see them planning their next strike in their evil eyes.

It's beyond me how it's possible that cats are not classified as vermin and exterminaded. Alergies, parasites, bites and now dementia.

I hope this shows cat lovers the error of their ways.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens

Pathetic weakling. (none / 1) (#93)
by Lenticular Array on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 02:22:04 PM EST


ANONYMIZED
[ Parent ]
cats are agents of eugenics (none / 1) (#98)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:32:59 PM EST

offing the genetically inferior such as yourself

(i'm joking of course, but you have to be clear about tha ton a sit elike this)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I think is adquired. (none / 1) (#103)
by V on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:54:55 PM EST

There's something in the water in CA. Ever since I came here I started with the alergies. Before I used to play with the cats without any trouble.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

were you raised city or country? (none / 1) (#104)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 05:07:53 PM EST

did you move to CA country?

there is a lot of chatter now about how young immune systems need to be immersed in country living or else they will be ill-equipped to deal with the slightest immunological assaults in their lives... and overreact to allegens

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

"possibility" already a known fact. (3.00 / 3) (#70)
by livus on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:01:10 PM EST

The findings suggested the tantalizing possibility that a parasite could somehow change the behavior of a host organism in subtle ways to suit its own reproduction cycle.

One word, baby: WOLBACHIA

"Much of the success of Wolbachia can be attributed to the diverse phenotypes that result from infection. These range from classical mutualism to reproductive parasitism as characterized by the ability of Wolbachia to override chromosomal sex determination, induce parthenogenesis, selectively kill males, influence sperm competition and generate cytoplasmic incompatibility in early embryos."

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

great link (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by maynard on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:05:12 PM EST

I should have used "vertebrates" instead of "organism". But to be truthful, I didn't know about this insect parasite anyway. That link is seriously cool.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
last I checked (none / 1) (#74)
by livus on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:33:10 PM EST

they'd found it doing things to worms, hence a possible cure for elephantiasis. Maybe T. gondii will turn out to be the wolbachia equivalent in rodents.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
...or people ;-P nt (none / 1) (#100)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:37:35 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
So... all cats suffer from schitzophrenia? (none / 1) (#83)
by dimaq on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 05:24:27 AM EST

Do they or do they not?

I imagine it's not that hard to have a few parasite free lab cats for testing, but you'd need a seasoned psychologist to tell whether a cat is sane or schitzo...

I guess it is also possible that parasite chemo affects cats differently.

it wouldn't be hard to believe % (none / 0) (#90)
by xram on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:08:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
diseases affect different animals differently (none / 1) (#99)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:34:21 PM EST

so the answer is most probably no


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
they certainly act like it -nt (none / 1) (#119)
by Rahaan on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 01:50:46 PM EST

no text.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
What % of cat owners are affected? (3.00 / 3) (#87)
by harrystottle on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:08:25 AM EST

Do we have that information? I'm interested in the context of comparing it to the small % of abusing cannabis users who will develop psychosis if they persist with heavy use for long enough. This is now being argued as a reason to continue the prohibition of the drug. It would be interesting to see if anyone is proposing prohibition of cat ownership for the same reason...

Mostly harmless
a lot (3.00 / 4) (#126)
by GotoHospital on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:58:10 AM EST

google bringeth this: "22.5% of 17,658 persons >12 years of age had Toxoplasma-specific IgG antibodies, indicating that they had been infected with the organism".

Cannabis only activates schizophrenia in people with a prediposition.
nested¢ evolution is still interesting. talk.origins faq.
[ Parent ]
Excellent Find (none / 0) (#134)
by harrystottle on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 07:44:37 PM EST

But to really nail the bastards, we need to know what percentage of those infected go on to develop a non trivial neurological or psychological disorder. Find that nugget and I'll smoke a pipe in your honour!

Mostly harmless
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out elsewhere (3.00 / 2) (#136)
by Hung Fu on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 04:01:39 AM EST

cat ownership is just one of several other factors, including eating undercooked red meat and exposure to infested water. If you want real studies, search for studies in pubmed for toxoplasmosis and cats.

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]
I think even without any environmental factors (none / 1) (#137)
by GotoHospital on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:56:32 AM EST

People will still go crazy. Sometimes not for lack of trying.
nested¢ evolution is still interesting. talk.origins faq.
[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 1) (#89)
by A Bore on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 10:36:57 AM EST

I'm sure humans aren't exempt from behaviour modifying parasites. Love, for instance, bears all the hallmarks of a virological illness that induces behavioural changes that could increase a parasites ability to infect another host. Another interesting parasite-caused behaviour is D. dendriticum in ants, which you can read about here (search for the term cow).

Achoo (none / 0) (#107)
by Baldrson on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:27:35 PM EST

Sneezes are a good example of a viral extended phenotype expressing itself in a human nervous system.

There are others, like the possibility that HIV specifically damages the amygdala as a way of introducing K lowering discrimination toward sex partners.

Although people don't like that hypothesis very much they _really_ don't like the hypothesis that such extended phenotypes may be more varied, subtle and profound than any of us have thought possible.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

HIV dementia a cause of transmission? (none / 0) (#118)
by maynard on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 12:29:07 PM EST

I don't think so. Isn't HIV induced dementia an encephalopathy that occurs during late stage AIDS as the patient nears death? By that point the unfortunate infected person would have no opportunity to attract a partner (or have energy for sex, either). And there are a range of opportunistic brain infections that co-occur with HIV (including T. gondii induced Toxoplasmosis) due to immunodeficiency. Separating cause and effect would require carefully masking out the different variables in a controlled study. I just don't think you have the facts to back that statement up.

Arguing from an evolutionary standpoint (much more speculative), I'd suggest that HIV is too new within the general population to evolve that kind of transmission strategy. Its carrying capacity isn't yet limited by lack of available hosts and thus infection growth is still explosive. So where's the selection pressure? And the time frame necessary for that selection pressure to evolve the strategy you assert? T. gondii has been around a long time and is widespread all over the world. Further, the parasite is at carrying capacity and thus under selection pressure. I don't think the two are comparable.

Just my lay-person analysis...

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

the selection pressure (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by khallow on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:24:30 PM EST

Arguing from an evolutionary standpoint (much more speculative), I'd suggest that HIV is too new within the general population to evolve that kind of transmission strategy. Its carrying capacity isn't yet limited by lack of available hosts and thus infection growth is still explosive. So where's the selection pressure? And the time frame necessary for that selection pressure to evolve the strategy you assert? T. gondii has been around a long time and is widespread all over the world. Further, the parasite is at carrying capacity and thus under selection pressure. I don't think the two are comparable.

I disagree. First, there's always competition. A disease that induces a behavior that helps spread the disease might have an advantage (assuming the methods doesn't inhibit the disease in some other way). Explosive isn't one speed. If you can spread faster, you will become more prevalent. There's always selection pressure.

Second, it's pretty clear that HIV has reached saturation in most of the developed world, for what that's worth. So it is experiencing selection pressure from that.

Further, HIV still appears to be a disease with natural origins. So it may have evolved these sorts of tricks well before it jumped to humans. Plus, we really don't know how long a disease would take to evolve that sort of ability. It's possible that the three or so decades has been sufficient.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

I'm skeptical (none / 0) (#133)
by maynard on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 07:40:07 PM EST

But I'm not competent to properly debate this point. But I would point out that I don't think there's research going in this direction, so I think neither of us can point to a study to back up either assertion. And I still think the medical side of my argument probably debunks the notion of increased HIV transmission due to brain changes than enhance desire for sexual contact. There was a med student posting in this story before... maybe he'll notice this thread and comment with some facts.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
I've always contended... (3.00 / 2) (#112)
by bighappyface on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:50:07 AM EST

...that once you've made out with a person, if you're receptive enough to them, you carry virii specific to them for life.

Everytime I make out with a new chick (not random, girl I'm interested in/dating), I get sick for a few days afterwards.

Everyone always thinks I'm crazy when I state this, so I refrain.

[ Parent ]

Cecil Adams take on this subject (3.00 / 3) (#92)
by rob on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:58:34 PM EST

This coincidentally appeared today on one of my favorite Q&A sites, The Straight Dope. Cat poop is a popular subject today.

On a related subject, sometimes my dog eats cat poop if she can find it. It is one of her most disgusting habits.

Batshit (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by yet another coward on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:20:33 PM EST

"Batshit insane" is just one letter off.

But it does explain (3.00 / 3) (#109)
by Hung Fu on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 12:00:28 AM EST

"crazier than a shithouse rat" (rats give it to cats).

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]
Most important affect on humans (3.00 / 5) (#106)
by Valdrax on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 08:55:25 PM EST

I think you've missed one of the more fascinating and scary studies about T. gondii in humans.

Increased risk of traffic accidents in subjects with latent toxoplasmosis: a retrospective case-control study

(Man, I haven't posted here in ages.)

great link! (none / 1) (#108)
by maynard on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:48:38 PM EST

Had I known it would have been in the article. Unbelieveable:

Conclusion

The subjects with latent toxoplasmosis have significantly increased risk of traffic accidents than the noninfected subjects. Relative risk of traffic accidents decreases with the duration of infection. These results suggest that 'asymptomatic' acquired toxoplasmosis might in fact represent a serious and highly underestimated public health problem, as well as an economic problem.



Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
I salute you (none / 0) (#135)
by harrystottle on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 08:00:02 PM EST

that link, together with gotohospitals gem (below) have finally convinced me we need to ban the cat. I feel a website coming on...

Mostly harmless
[ Parent ]
Mr. Nugent, sir? Your muse is calling. . . (n/t) (none / 1) (#110)
by IHCOYC on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 02:46:28 AM EST


--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G
Possible systematic errors in such studies (none / 1) (#111)
by Highlander on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:09:32 AM EST

I can think of systematic errors in such studies:
No control group of cat owners not infected with toxoplasmosis.
Actually, the causality may be that schizophrenic people like cats better than other people, therefore get infected with toxoplasmosis, and this is the reason for the correlation.
Schizophrenia might boost the immune system
The article mentions that the subjects had a higher toxoplasmosis antibody count. However, since the brain also affects the immune system, it is conceivable that all kinds of antibodies against all diseases get a boost.
Of course all of the above could be true to some extent.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
I'm glad I have 4 cats. (none / 0) (#123)
by Stoutlimb on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:44:10 PM EST

I checked into the reports about Toxoplasmosis when my son was gestating, because of the issues regarding birth defects.  I inherited 4 cats along with my wife (the price I paid for love.)  Technically, toxoplasmosis is a disease that is passed between rats and cats, and we live in a rat-free region of the country.  All the blood tests we had turned up negative for toxoplasmosis antibodies, so we are safe, and we assume our cats are safe too.

Now I just have to keep our cats from bringing in hantavirus-infected mice.  That stuff will kill you dead within days.

Air quality (none / 0) (#129)
by dogeye on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:54:45 PM EST

Have you found any particularly effective methods for mitigating the smell and keeping the air quality healthy?

[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 1) (#130)
by Stoutlimb on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:37:30 AM EST

Regular litter changes and keeping the litter in a separate room with good ventilation does the trick.  Plus it's good to have cats that don't pee on anything.  Also, with cats, carpets are better than hard surfaces, as cat hair will cling to it until removed instead of drift and fly around.  Vacumming regularly is necessary, but it should be anyway.  Unless you're hyper sensitive to cat hair, general cleanliness should cover all your bases.

Quite honestly, my 3 year old is much more of a challenge to clean air quality and general house cleanliness.  Just yesterday he decided that playing  with a soiled diaper I threw in the garbage could be fun.

[ Parent ]

Raw meat or cats? (none / 1) (#138)
by pde on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:15:04 PM EST

According to this page, 60% of acute toxoplasmosis infections are caused by food (eating rare meat) rather than transmisison from cats. The incidence of toxoplasmosis is heavily affected by diet: over 50% in france and around 22% in the United States. But what's the point of eating throughly cooked meat? One might as well be a vegetarian.
Visit Computerbank, a GNU/Linux based charity
Schizophrenia a non-existant disease (none / 0) (#139)
by Rakushun on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 04:34:21 PM EST

Schizophrenia doesn't even exist in reality so belief in a causal nexus is mere superstition.

[ Parent ]
A black cat (none / 0) (#140)
by Rakushun on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 04:37:53 PM EST

I was walking down the street the other day and a black cat crossed my path and then a latter fell on me and then an anvil in Wile E. Coyote cartoon style. Then I was hit by a bus and comet from outer space landed on me and then a lightning bolt came from the heavens and hit my left hand.

[ Parent ]
A black cat (none / 0) (#141)
by Rakushun on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 04:40:26 PM EST

I was walking down the street the other day and a black cat crossed my path and then a ladder fell on me and then an anvil in Wile E. Coyote cartoon style. Then I was hit by a bus and comet from outer space landed on me and then a lightning bolt came from the heavens and hit my left hand.

[ Parent ]
SkyKnight? nt (1.33 / 3) (#142)
by nlscb on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 10:40:27 PM EST


Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

Psychiatry and psychology are pseudo-science (none / 0) (#143)
by Rakushun on Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 02:19:20 PM EST

Without etiological biological proof schizoprenia doesn't exist. Trying to find causes for something that doesn't exist is mentally retarded. There are no mentally ill people if we use the DSM as the standard. One can prove that Olney's lesions exist biologically on the brain yet Olney's lesions and other concrete disases are not listed in the DSM. So let's face that fact that mentall illness doesn't exist and schizoprenia doesn't exist. Without a concrete link to hard science like biology soft science is nothing sad joke. Anyone who takes soft science like psychology or psychiatry seriously are incredibly stupid and naive people.

[ Parent ]
Soft science ... (none / 0) (#144)
by Rakushun on Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 02:48:19 PM EST

I think any serious smart person must shun soft science entirely. Psychology and psychiatry just happen to be soft sciences. Hence any smart person has to shun it as total bullshit. Mental illness doesn't exist although the logic of our language seems to postulate that it should. However, it was Bertrand Russel who performed the service of showing that the apparent logical form of a proposition need not be it's real one. This was followed up by Ludwig Wittgenstein in the "Tractatus Logico Philosophicus". You want to the truth ? Truth is people labelled with things (rather than facts) like schizophrenia merely exhibit behaviour that mainstream society doesn't like. That doesn't mean they are mentally ill. That also doesn't prove that mentall illness exists as a fact. What it means is that the normal (90-130 IQ mean subhumans rather than the 130-150 mean IQ humans) are trying persecute 1% of the population. That one percent is likely to have very high IQs. Why do you think that common cliche exists that there is a link between genius and madness (the mentally ill) ? Because these people are fully aware of the fact that they are persecuting 1% of the population that merely has a different personality type from mainstream society. There is no such thing as mental illness and psyhiatry and psychology are pseudo-science and what they really are is " a means of social control" that can be sanctioned by the government. It doesn't mean that psychology and psychiatry are legitimate sciences. Only hard science and natural science are legitimate and everything else in soft science is mentally retarded joke.

[ Parent ]
psychiatry is good soft science. (none / 0) (#145)
by chro57 on Sun Feb 12, 2006 at 10:28:36 AM EST

If you are in the 1% of subgenius, then you may find help in meeting and socially linking with other subgenius. You will discover that you are not alone to hear voices, and the psychiatre, will explain you that this is just something that must be kept secret and only told about inside the psychiatric sect, in the warm cumfort of the psychiatric asylum. (at least in my country.) Thank you for your attention. And beware of the paradygm shift. "Strange syntax shows you are shizophrene." And don't forget to pay respect to the time cube. For time is cubic. http://www.timecube.org I need an hostie.

[ Parent ]
Parasite infection from cat shit linked to schizophrenia | 145 comments (82 topical, 63 editorial, 1 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!