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Schizophrenia may be caused by a parasite

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Schizophrenia may be caused by a parasite

Post by The Invisible Man on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:42 pm

A clinical trial is now under way to find out if a cheap antibiotic called minocycline might be used to treat schizophrenia. Minocycline works against bacteria but can also kill a protozoan parasite called toxoplasma, which has long been suspected of causing at least some cases of schizophrenia. Toxoplasma can reproduce sexually only in cats; to get from cat to cat, its egg cells leave via the cat feces and wait to be eaten by other mammals, especially rats. Inside a rat, it invades the brain, where it alters the rat's behavior, disabling or even reversing the rat's fear of cats. Cats eat foolhardy rats, facilitating the parasite's entry into a new cat.

Human beings can also catch toxoplasma from cats, and it's known to affect behavior: altering personalities, slowing reaction times and increasing the risk of car accidents. More than 20 studies have now found an association between schizophrenia and toxoplasma. Schizophrenia is more common among those who had pet cats in their childhood homes (but not in those who had pet dogs).

Indeed, some scientists think that schizophrenia only became common, around 1870, when keeping cats as indoor pets became fashionable. The parasite has genes for dopamine, a neurochemical found in excess in schizophrenics.

This is the full report.
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Re: Schizophrenia may be caused by a parasite

Post by Possum on Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:19 pm

I knew there was a damn good reason to hate cats.

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