Some bad news from Signal + Noise [Volokh]:

Toxoplasmosis results from infection by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Most domestic cats are or will be infected during their lives. The parasite reproduces within cats but is passed through their feces to intermediate hosts, particularly rats and humans. The parasites spread through the body, lodging primarily within the muscle and brain tissue, where they will remain throughout the host’s life. […] But as an expert on the parasite, Dr. Joanna Webster, said recently:

If we become immuno-suppressed with AIDS or chemotherapy, the parasites reactivate in us. Basically, this is what causes the madness at the terminal stage of AIDS. It’s actually the Toxoplasma making great big holes in your brain.

This is not good.

It gets worse. Toxoplasma gondii is thought to be an example supporting the Manipulation Hypothesis, which posits that parasites can evolve the ability to alter their hosts’ behavior to make transmission more likely. Toxoplasma gondii has been shown to affect the behavior of infected rats, who exhibit slower reaction times, reduced fear response, and a fatal attraction to cat scent. […] The infected and uninfected rats were not different in responses to other smells or in engaging in other (cat-unrelated) behaviors. In particular, the infected rats showed no general disruption of their health, a confound that often affects such behavioral studies of parasitic manipulation.


posted November 04, 2003 10:45 PM (Technology) #


Frag the Flag
Followup to “Question for Free-Market Libertarians”
How to Win Elections
The Immorality of Copyright Law or GET YOUR DIEBOLD MEMOS HERE
Evaluating the Democrats
Cats: The Silent Killer
People With Better Birthday Presents Than Me
Movie Reviews (Kill Bill, Matrix Revolutions)
Nip/Tuck: The Best Drama on TV
Nader for America
Nader for Geeks

Aaron Swartz (