Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Meow?-Out*: Cat Parasite affects 1/2 the globe?!!!!

According to ABC/AP, We're(almost) all infected by a huge parasite.
This parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has been transmitted indirectly from cats to roughly half the people on the planet.

Now comes the strange stuff. I will (as usual for this blog), pretend this is NEWS for the normally impaired.

Toxoplasma is not a new disease. In an article published over 12 years ago, the folks at Michigan State University published an article titled, "Why shouldn't pregnant women clean the cat litter box?" Oh yeah.
It's been proven that you don't have to get rid of your cat(s) if you're pregnant, just be more careful, and perhaps just use rubber gloves, or get the household's MALE to change the litter for you...

So we're not breaking any ground on new dangers. Just on REALLY weird behaviors and outcomes. I repeat the previous block quote. Over 1/2 of the HUMANS on the planet are infected with Toxoplasma (hereafter toxo for short).

Today's discussion. Toxo has been shown to affect human personalities in different ways. Both men and women who are infected are more prone to feeling guilty and insecure. Other researchers have linked the parasite to schizophrenia.
  • Women who are infected with the parasite tend to be warm, outgoing and attentive to others.
  • Men tend to be less intelligent and probably a bit boring.

The actual lifecyle of toxo is actually quite interesting.
It can change the personality of a rat so much that the rat surrenders itself to a cat, just as the parasite wanted. (See & Listen here).

The lifecycle in short:
  1. The parasite's eggs are shed in a cat's feces.
  2. A rat comes along, eats the feces, and becomes infected.
  3. The behavior of the rat undergoes a dramatic change, making the rat more adventuresome and more likely to hang out around cats.
  4. The cat eats the rat, and the parasite goes into the cat's stomach, and reproduces.
  5. The parasite then sheds its eggs into the feces, and the cycle of its life is completed.
Note, that the parasite cannot reproduce UNLESS it is in the stomach of a cat!
The question changes slightly...

"We have a parasite in our brain that is trying to get transmitted to a cat," the researcher says. "This changes an individual's personality."

So if enough personalities are changed in a given society, will the culture of that society also be changed?
Another question: if enough of us are infected and undergo personality changes, will that also alter our combined personalities or our culture?

And yet, as a parent (and reader) of a series of young adult (Sci-Fi) books called, The Animorphs, written by K. A. Applegate, All I Can think of is..YEERKS... no, not JEERK, but Yeerk

A Yeerk is a parasite that takes over...another being by {crawling into} the ear canal. It resembles a small, grey-green slug about six inches long. Yeerks in their natural state have decent senses of smell and touch, but they are blind until they enter a host, as they do not have eyes.

EEEEWWWWW... Toxo is almost ??? as intelligent as a yeerk?? ... the yeerks.. are among us??? but they are REALLY controlled by cats???!!!!

Ehh... Enough Science Fiction for me for now...

* I called it a meow out (thanks to my wife dearest, was originally titled a Huh-out, since I couldn't figure out if this was a Shout-out, or a shame-out...

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