Germ in Cat Feces and Litter Affects Human Brain Behavior

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So-called "crazy" cat ladies could be become more of a reality. According to WMBF News, new research is starting to reveal how the toxoplasma parasite, found in cat litter boxes, affects the brains of humans.

cat litter box

The immune system usually keeps this parasite under control, so symptoms do not show. Humans become infected with toxoplasma gondii from eating infected meat or coming in contact with cat feces. The parasite can lead to toxoplasmosis, which can be fatal. The disease is also linked to a variety of mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.

The new research shows that once infected with toxoplasma, the body's immune system starts secreting GABA. This signaling chemicals controls an individual's fear and anxiety levels. The disturbances in GABA caused by toxoplasma are also seen in those with mental health disorders.

Researchers believe this find is a gateway to better understanding the interactions between parasites and public health. While the study found this connection, it does not necessarily signal a cause-and-effect relationship between toxoplasma and mental health disorders. Researchers are reassuring the general public that humans have been living with this parasite for thousands of years and should not become too concerned about its effects.

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